Art & Science

It seems kind of strange doesn’t it? Trying to combine Art and Science or at least trying to find some close relationship between the two seems contradictory because of their seemingly different nature. But as a matter of fact, the Arts have managed to get intertwined into Science throughout history.

A notable example of this would be Niels Bohr’s story. During the 1920′s Bohr was trying to reinterpret the structure of matter itself. The classical view portrayed an atom as some kind of small version of the solar system with the atomic nucleus at the center and the electrons rotating around it, just like the the planets and the sun in our own solar system.

bohr_atom

Not long hereafter, Bohr decided that the classical view was in great need clarification, for the observable behavior of the electrons seemed to defy any known logical and conventional explanation. As Bohr stated: “When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry” or in simpler terms: normal words simply couldn’t explain what was happening with matter on such a small scale.

Not many people know that, beside being one of the world’s most recognized scientists, Bohr was also highly interested in arts, and more specifically in Cubism. The allure of Cubism was that it kind of shattered the certainty of an object. A cubist painting of a chair doesn’t necessarily mean that a chair was specifically painted on the canvas…

It was only a matter of time before Bohr tried to connect his two major interests and found some intriguing conclusions. He approached the electron problem from a new perspective, namely a cubist perspective. Bohr decided that the strange in-explainable world of the electron was essentially a cubist world, just like in the arts.

cubism1

At the time it was already known the electrons could ‘potentially exist’ as either waves or particles. Bohr decided that the form an electron took depended on how you look at them. The very nature of the electrons was a consequence of the human observation of said electron. This led to one of the most important and intriguing scientific matters of our time, namely that electrons aren’t tiny little planets at all, but they’re more like one of Picasso’s distorted guitars Dali’s ‘clocks’. Depending on how you look at them, they appear and behave in a strange, but different way.

It may seem a bit strange that some form of abstract art could have had such an impact on scientific discoveries of the past. Cubist paintings don’t seem to have anything in common with the complex study of electrons and their behavior on a quantum scale. The traditional view of science is that we will one day understand the world by logic, reasoning and calculations of physical matter. However, the course of time has taught us that ‘understanding’ science is a bit more complicated than that.

2011-03-08-Science_Wonder_Art

The more we seem to find out about reality, it’s quantum mechanics and neural beginnings, the more we seem to struggle with new paradoxes and old theories that suddenly don’t fit the current model at all. As the inspiring novelist Vladimir Nabokov once stated“The greater one’s science, the deeper the sense of mystery”

We believe that this story illustrates a strong message to why art and science are inevitably intertwined with one another. Even though they don’t seem to have much in common, they way of thinking and the way we perceive both worlds from these different disciplines can be used to combine the strengths from both fields into a new and perhaps better understanding of the world we live in.