Seeing Science: Science and Art

Science and art are often pitted against each other: left-brained or right-brained? Feeling or thinking? Creative or logical? But, is this always the case? We talked to Dr. Megan Halpern from MSU who specializes in studying the “intersection of art and science” and looks at how experts and the public interact. Dr. Halpern tells us about her science theater shows, “human powerpoints,” and other ways she has seen art and science support, shape, and enhance each other.

Memorable Quotes

“He [Roald Hoffmann] got this look of delight on his face…I talk about this moment where he really experienced what improve was…he discovered this experience of what it means to have people who will go with you no matter where you go and add to what you’re doing”

“We’re often mired down in this hope that we will convey information and that people will understand and take in the information, but what’s really happening is that there’s an experience happening in that moment. And that experience is more than the sum of the information. It’s something that’s more about meaning making, more about how we interpret and make sense of what’s happening to us, and make that part of who we are.”

“Fostering experiences rather than conveying information”

“I tend to think of art and science both as ways of knowing, ways of producing knowledge, that have developed different methods, different languages, different tools, different subjects, but are still fundamentally ways of investigating or exploring our world and ourselves and being able to say something about that.”

“We still have ways we try to visualize science that we talk about as objective in different ways.”

“This idea of thinking- instead of ‘information’, thinking of ‘experience’- that making this shift is one of the ways I’m really hopeful that the arts and sciences can benefit each other.”


You can find more about Dr. Halpern at her website or follow her on Twitter at @dr_halpern.

Here are a few of the books and articles that Dr. Halpern mentioned: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism by Fritjof Capra, The Image of Objectivity by Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison.

Or check out this article recently published by the Smithsonian Magazine about an artist who uses images of brain waves and neurons in her work.

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