Scientific and artistic creation

We asked Luminet if scientific methodology and artistic creation have anything in common, given that both are an exploration of the world, involve ideas, hypotheses, experimentation, interpretation and theories. We often associate science with logic, simplification, objectivity, logical conclusions and accuracy whereas art with imagination, emotions and subjectivity. But is this right? Scientific and artistic creation have a great deal in common: firstly, imagination and creativity, an insatiable curiosity and a refusal to accept things per se. Instinct is the basis of every creation, whether it is scientific or artistic. They differ though in formalism and development methods. A creative scientist always has new ideas and is able to apply them, which is the most difficult thing. For me the best examples of creative scientists are Johannes Kepler, Georges Lemaitre and Albert Einstein. Scientific ideas used to be influenced by society and prevailing ideologies, philosophy and religion). Today I don’t think there are differences in the way science is practiced, regardless of nationality and religious beliefs. What is your opinion of aesthetics in science? It serves as a «subjective» guide. Let us not forget that cosmos, an ancient Greek word, meant order, beauty. Thus cosmology, the science of space, has the same nature as cosmetology, which aims to enhance the body’s beauty. Of course aesthetics are subjective and have been passed down over the course of time. In science, a theory which seems «neat» at a particular time, such as Kepler’s first model of the solar system based on a regular polyhedron, may seem wrong and ugly later. The opposite is also true, Kepler’s second model based on elliptic wheels initially appeared atrocious but then was proved right and appeared beautiful. There are many research fields in astrophysics today which could lead to important breakthroughs regarding the universe. One must be daring in life otherwise nothing is achieved. As Einstein himself said, imagination is more important than knowledge. Eleni Hatzichristou is an astrophysicist.

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