Sunday, June 21, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] artists and atoms: fission and fusion


Todd Siler who has just joined YASMIN asked me to forward
these comments


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From: Todd Siler <>

Subject: Re: FW: [Yasmin_discussions] artists and atoms: fission and fusion


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re ouHomi Jehangir Bhabha -

there is a quote on one of his web sites ( he died in 1966):

"I know quite clearly what I want out of my life. Life and my emotions
are the only things
 I am conscious of. I love the consciousness of life and I want as
much of it as I can get.
 But the span of one's life is limited. What comes after death no one
knows. Nor do I care. Since, therefore,
 I cannot increase the content of life by increasing its duration, I
will increase it by increasing its intensity.
Art, music, poetry and everything else that consciousness I do have
this one purpose - increasing the
 intensity of my consciousness of life".

from todd:

Beautiful quote. For me, it resonates with some of the fascinating
reflections on the nature of consciousness introduced by the
neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio, in his adventurous book,  The Feeling
of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness
(Heinemann, 1999). Damasio's one of the few brain specialists whom I'd
enjoy hearing interact with the more exploratory nuclear specialists
and mathematical physicists as they all puzzled over the intertwined
mysteries of consciousness, quantum phenomena and string theory --
perhaps, tying together our experiences of these fields of knowledge.

There are many engrossing stories about some of these curious
characters noted here in Walter Isaacson's Einstein: His Life &
Universe. Aside from learning about the issues and challenges of
Einstein's times (some of which are touched on in this book on
"Martians"), in reading Isaacson's biography I found myself musing
about how easy it is in our society of "cultures" to swiftly dismiss
those uniquely creative spirits who do not learn in conventional ways
with traditional practices. They simply don't "fit the mold" of a
particular field or profession.

To pique your curiosity: On page 26 in Isaacson's book, we're informed
that Einstein had some problems with the boring learn-by-rote method
and chose to attend this special school in the village of Aarau near
Zurich. "It was a perfect school for Einstein," writes Isaacson. "The
teaching was based on the philosophy of a Swiss educational reformer
of the early nineteenth century, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, who
believed in encouraging students to visualize images. He also thought
it important to nurture the 'inner dignity' and 'individuality of each
child. Students should be allowed to reach their own conclusions,
Pestalozzi preached, by using a series of steps that began with
hands-on observations and then proceeded to intuitions, conceptual
thinking, and visual imagery. It was even possible to learn--and truly
understand--the laws of math and physics that way. Rote drills,
memorization, and force-fed facts were avoided....The visual
understanding of concepts, as stressed by Pestalozzi and his followers
in Aarau, became a significant aspect of Einstein's genius. 'Visual
understanding is the essential and only true means of teaching how to
judge things correctly,' Pestalozzi wrote, and 'the learning of
numbers and language must be definitely subordinated.'

Not surprisingly, it was at this school that Einstein first engaged in
the visualized thought experiment that would help make him the
greatest scientific genius of his time: he tried to picture what it
would be like to ride alongside a light beam..."  As we all know, that
adventurous ride of imagination propelled us all into a whole new
understanding of light-energy-matter-meaning...Everything!  Just
imagine how many Einsteins we've missed because of our narrow notions
and definitions of "artistic" "scientific" "genius" -- especially, as
it relates to bold & fresh ideas that confound our current
understanding of things...even nuclear fusion...and our approach to
re-create what stars do. As I'm fond of saying: We experience things
by how we define them. The broader the definition, the deeper and more
meaningful our experiences tend to be.



2009/6/20 Todd Siler <>

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