Lisa Randall: What Can Science Learn from the Arts?

Lisa Randall: What can science learn from the arts? You know I really enjoy seeing art, and I even enjoy seeing some art that’s been motivated by science. But I do think they’re . . . In some ways you can learn about the nature of creativity what . . . what are the opportunities that people have that make them excel. But there really are differences in the arts and science. And one difference is that you really can have a wrong answer in science. And that’s very different, and it requires a certain kind of . . . a different type of training, a different type of evaluating what you’ve done. I mean in some sense you can have a wrong answer in art, but there’s always a more subjective element to it. There is like a number that tells you you’re wrong, you know, which is just undeniable. There’s no getting around it in science sometimes. So even if you have a good idea it could be wrong. But I think broadly speaking, I think one can learn about just how people enjoy culture. And I think it would be nice if science was more part of culture – that people thought it as important to understand certain basic elements of science as they do to understand certain basic elements of literature or art. That should be as fundamental to our way of thinking. I think one thing that science can probably learn from art is just ways of getting people excited about ideas. I mean I think there is a lot of artistic ideas that people really enjoy hearing about and think it’s important to be part of their . . . part of culture. And so given that it offers new ways of thinking about things, it would be nice for science to learn about that – sort of how to communicate better. Recorded On: 11/2/07


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Randall, a physicist, wishes that science was a part of pop culture. It's just as important to understand certain basic elements of science as it is to understand certain basic elements of literature or art, she argues. "That should be as fundamental to our way of thinking. One thing that science can probably learn from art is getting people excited about ideas."

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