Monday, June 27, 2016

Week 1 - Two Cultures

In The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, C.  Snow points out two groups, sharing similarities and differences, which have been set up against each other. He describes the phenomenon of "two cultures'' as 
two groups - comparable in intelligence, identical in race, not grossly different in social origin, earning about the same incomes, who had almost ceased to communicate at all, who in intellectual, moral and psychological climate had so little in common that instead of going from Burlington House or South Kensington to Chelsea, one might have crossed an ocean.
                Division of functions of human brain: each person has an artistic side and a scientific side                    

The division of two groups, if conveniently summarized as the artists and the scientists, seems to arise from their dissimilarities, as if they have forgotten of what they indeed share in common. In the experience of C. Snow, who is a profession scientist and a amateur writer, the intellectual life of western society is "increasingly being split into two polar groups", and he believes that the reason of such lies in mutual misunderstanding:
Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension--sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding. They have curious distorted image of each other. Their attitudes are so different that, even on level of emotion, they can't find much common ground.
                                             Student popular is divided as art students and science students                                                            
He particularly points out a special group -- the young, as the majority in two cultures. In fact, I believe, that the young is the most vulnerable group to such mutual incomprehension and misunderstanding, because they are so passionate and emotional towards what they believe, and sometimes, the first thing they have believed in, and they are so lack of life experiences in other disciplines. 

The best example I can think of is the college students. As a member of College of Art and Science, similarly my study life has been divided between mind of science and mind of art. My major in Astrophysics is in south campus, and my minor in Latin in north campus. Every day I spend more than 10 minutes walking from a physics class to a classics class, and experience totally different mind set in class. Not only are the history of Rome and the Roman poems two romantic and full of imagine, but the theories of astronomy and physics too strict, well-defined and has no room for any change. The more I immerse in these two fields, the more I feel that the college education has indeed separated art and science for me in advance. For example, the writing style changes dramatically in terms of rules and regulations. Humanities stresses the use of signs, the style of quotation, the sequence of elements and the use of vocabulary, and sometimes too strict about how to write, rather than what to write. Moreover, every assignment has strict requirements of page numbers and it is almost always more is better.
                                                                     Rules of Writing in Humanities                                                                                    
However, scientific writing focuses on the clarity, preciseness, accuracy, and conciseness of content. If I can state a fact in 5 words, then using 10 words would lead to a point off. If I use an adjective that is ambiguous, such as "very" or "many", then points off definitely for the sake of accuracy. Sometimes it has strict requirement of the maximum pages you can write so they keep your writing as concise as possible. 
                                                                           Rules for Scientific Writing                                                                  
Other than writing, the distance between north and south campus separates physically science students and art students, creating the opportunity of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Thus each of them has unrealistic, stereotypical imagination of each other's world.
                          Misunderstanding of students between south and north campus.            
In many aspects of grown-up's worlds, business, management, industry and many other fields are still using the stereotypical division of art and science, as they are naturally opposite to each other. 
                                                      Art and Science of marketing.                              
                                                                               Art and Science in Management                                                          

However, Stephen Wilson states that the misunderstanding of art and science is not symmetrical, for that 
 Scientists and even technologists to some extent do not believe that artists have much to tell them about their business. Scientists tend to invest respect in a researcher's disciplinary credentials and in membership in established networks. Many are quite engaged by the classical worlds of art, theatre, and music but do not see art as relevant to their professional work as researchers. In part this is because they do not understand contemporary arts reach beyond objects and performances.
and even one physics professor of mine quoted himself in class, in front of a hundred of student, "I have read a book, titled The Use of Humanities, as I finished reading it, I found no use of humanities."
                                                                             Scientists' humor for humanities.                                                                 

However, as Bohm points out in On Creativity, "the scientist is perhaps not basically different from the artist, the architect, the musical composer, etc., who all want to create this sort of thing in their work." as we all have the analytical part of brain and creative part of brain. Although what scientists and artists do are totally different, they are still part of one intellectual training. Moreover, art and science interact and corporate to make the world a better place. I feel the need to bridge these two cultures, between Latin and Astrophysics, between Shakespeare and Einstein, between north campus and south campus for both sides to realize how important each other is in this world.
                                                     Science and Humanities Corporate Together.                                     


Snow, C. P. "The Two Cultures." The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.
Wilson, Stephen "Myths and Confusions in Thinking about Art/Science/Technology" Paper presented at College Art Association Meetings, NYC, 2000

Bohm, D. "On Creativity" Leonardo, Vol. 1, pp. 137-149. Pergamon Press 1968. Printed in Great Britain.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Week 1 - Math + Art

Defined by Wikipedia, "In mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities." This golden ratio, also known as the golden division, the perfect ratio or the golden mean, is the a mathematical geometry property. It appears in basic constructions of an equilateral triangle, square and pentagon placed inside a circle.

                                                                     Geometry properties of golden ratio                                                           
It has math representation

 where the Greek number Phi has value

It seems like that our perception of beauty is tightly wired with Phi, as if it is embedded into our genes (the shape of DNA also follows the golden ratio) that we perceive the beauty in men and women and we judge the appearance of structure by how closely the proportions of facial and body are to Phi. For this reason, Phi is applied in both cosmetics, painting, sculpture and architecture. 

It has been discovered that many artists have found this golden ratio and utilized it to maximize the aesthetic perception produced by the proportion of objects or the division of different parts of the painting. The most famous example is the mixture of art and science, Leonardo da Vinci painted many human figure portrays, and many of them follow the golden ratio as in a pentagon.
        Leonardo da Vinci's human portray.    
In his most famous painting, The Last Supper, we can find Phi everywhere, almost in every sub-structure of the overall structure.: the painting on the arch window on the wall, the position of Jesus and his surrounding men, and the supper table and etc.
                                                             The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci                                             

Michelangelo's painting on the Sistene Chapel, The Creation of Adam, also is found to follow the golden ratio.
                                                              The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo                                                  
Moreover, the golden ratio is discovered way before mathematics became a well-defined field. Some ancient architectures and furniture, which are built way before the mathematics burst in 14 century, are discovered to be following Phi as well. It well supports the point that the aesthetic perception of Phi is embedded in our gene and we human kind naturally uses Phi without mathematically defining it.

For example, the Parthenon in Athenian Acropolis, Greece, built by Greek from 443 to 438 BC, has a perfect golden ratio structure.
                                                                  Greek temple, Parthenon.                                                    
The Egyptians described the golden ratio as "sacred ratio" and utilized it in their design of Pyramid.
                                                          Pyramid follows the golden ratio.                                      
Mathematics is widely used in the building of Pyramid. Other than the golden ratio, geometry, calculation of area and other techniques were also learned by Egyptians and utilized in building of the first and oldest Pyramid, the Step Pyramid in Saqqara. Gamwell states that 
Students of the Rhind papyrus were taught the surveyor’s rule for calculating the area of a trapezoid, and scribes have recorded that Egyptian builders knew the related rule for finding the volume of a truncated pyramid.
This integration of mathematics and art gives rise to a more accepted, more appreciated form of aesthetics. It elevates expressions of art and broaden the application of mathematics. Claude summarizes this integration, or the juxtaposition of mathematics, in projective and geometry as 
For at least 32000 years, when they used to ornament the walls of the caves, the artists have painted on plane or curved surfaces using sometimes the rules of perspective in a spontaneous manner. We are indebted to the painters for having founded a rational theory of perspective ... these elements lead the archtect from Lyon, Gerard Desargues, around 1639, to base projective geometry: that is the classical example of the phenomenon of symbiosis between art and mathematics.


Gamwell, Lynn, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Mathematics Art: A Cultural History. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Henderson, Linda Dalrymple. “The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art: Conclusion.” Leonardo. 17.3 (1984): 205-210. Print.

Bruter, Claude Paul. Mathematics and Art: Mathematical Visualization in Art and Education. Berlin: Springer, 2002. Print.