Sunday, November 1, 2015

[Yasmin_discussions] why scientists invest energy in art science practices

from environmental scientist Wendy Silk


-- The question of language ( in art science) and associated
interpretation is fascinating. As a multi-disciplinarian I have felt
like a translator in much of my work--explaining biology to
mathematicians and engineers, explaining math and physics to
biologists, explaining fluid dynamics to researchers in solid
mechanics. To the biologists I say "Physics happens." To the
physicists I say, "We are biology." Each time we bridge disciplines
we examine the fundamental assumptions and models embedded in the
vocabulary and grammar of the two fields of endeavor. And we gain
tremendous insight into both disciplines.

Toward the end of my career I have been using music (songwriting) to
engage learners in science. When students write and perform songs to
communicate science they tap into the kinesthetic and emotional power
of groove (rhythms) and riff (melodies). They use their bodies to
communicate. They experience the creativity that is fundamental to
scientific research. The nonscientists (perhaps initially
science-phobes) see something about what turns on their nerdy science
classmates, while the scientists (perhaps initially introverts)
increase their powers of expressivity and access new methods of
communication. Students report years later that they never forget the
concepts and details of their assigned song topics. If you are
interested you can watch the class YouTube channel at

In general, in our ArtScience fusion program at UC Davis, we are
finding that our fusion classes and related exhibits and performances
are an effective way to bring science to the people and people to
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