Physics and Art

bEST sf bLOG 2019Nuclear physicist: Robert August Science Fiction transparent_1000px

Writer: August von Orth

Robertaugust770-6smallWhy Physics and Art?

Why choose a name like Physics and Art for this site? Aren’t the two things opposites? Perhaps it’s presumptuous to strive for a degree of skill in both. With formal training in physics, and a successful career built around it, the polite thing would be to stay in that box. But who likes boxes?

It’s sad that such a thing is considered unusual. Many have been successful at both; an excellent example is Catherine Asaro who lives in my area. And there was a time when it was positively normal; think of Leonardo da Vinci. Artist: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, and writer. Scientist: mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, and botanist. It would be wrong to think of him as a scientist who dabbled in art, or an artist who played around with science. He was definitively both. I’m willing to bet that if anyone ever asked him which he really was, that he’d have cocked his head to the side and wondered what the question even meant. Because in truth the two things are intimately related.


Human faces that appear beautiful to most people have mathematical properties of symmetry and proportionality that are universal. Does the artist recognize this when choosing a model to paint or sculpt? Maybe not, but it is still the underlying property that drives the choice.

In physics, the holy grail is a unified theory that encompasses all the forces of nature. Physicists don’t expect this theory to be a clunky and convoluted series of formulas, they anticipate a single equation, elegant and simple, that describes everything. Why? Because such an equation is beautiful, in the same mathematical sense that defines the beauty of a human face. Just try and find a skilled physicist who thinks otherwise; you’ll fail.

Beauty drives both physics and art. If you find that hard to believe, then listen to Albert Einstein: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” In fact, it may be that a physicist without an artistic sensibility is doomed to mediocrity.

So why choose a name like Physics and Art for this site? Why choose anything else?

35 thoughts

  1. Oooo nice! And I’m happy to find a fellow scientist/creative as well! Because you’re right, many times people stay in their boxes, and don’t venture from one side to the other. I have, however, always loved both sides, the artistic and scientific, and while I am most definitely no physicist (although I WISH I could be – I dropped Calculus in high school to focus more on my Physics class which I was failing … I’m sadly not as mathematically inclined as I’d like, ha!), I do love the sciences. Pretty much all of them. And anyway, what in life gives you better story ideas than SCIENCE! What greater art is there but NATURE!

    Liked by 4 people

    • It is so true about science and story ideas. Science allows a writer to create a completely unique, yet plausible, dilemma in which to place a character. It lets a writer look at what it means to be human from a fresh perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Woah! I’m really enjoying thhe template/theme of this site.
    It’ssimple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s
    tough to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and vusual appeal.
    I must say you’ve done a excwllent job with this. In addition, the blog loads extremely fast for me onn Firefox.
    Outstanding Blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent pieces. Keep posting such kind of info on your page.

    Im really impressed by your blog.
    Hey there, You hhave done a fantastic job.
    I’ll definitely digg it and ffor my part suggest to
    my friends. I’m confident they’llbe benefited rom this website.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi I am so thrilled I found your blog, I really
    found you by error, while I was searching on Aol for something
    else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thanks
    for a tremendous post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the
    theme/design), I don’t have time to browse
    it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS
    feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do
    keep up the excellent work.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Robert, thank you. I liked this issue a million-million ways. I think relating art and science is brilliant. As I did the concept of thinking like a musician. As I did the concept of finding a single, elegant formula for a GUT. Einstein certainly believed it exists. So do many others. Perhaps you’ll be the one to find it. Great – great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wonderful! I am an MS Candidate in Columbia University’s Narrative Medicine Program who believes in the inextricable connection between art, science AND social justice. I am also a sleep activist:) Delighted to meet a kindred spirit:

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Listen to John Keats too: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. Whether it’s Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring or the Gibbs-Helmholtz equation, the same spirit of delight moves within. A pleasure to visit your place, and thank you for visiting mine.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. A very nice statement. I reminded me of another intellectual who had more varied intrests as one should assume: Rosa Luxemburg. She wasn’t only the clever theoretician we remember today but a passionate gardener with the intense love for botany. Thank you very much for following.

    All the best

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: