Nudes & neutrons: leaps of imagination in art and science

Fall 2008 Program

Five Thursday lectures and a film
October 30 - December 4, 2008 at 7:00 pm

at the Davies Centre (Osler Hall), Trinity College School,

55 Deblaquire St North, Port Hope Get Map to Trinity College

Get Map of campus Trinity College School recommends that you park your car at the School's arena (indicated on the map with a green "V" on the lower right corner). From there walk across Ward Street and follow the brick pathway past the Chapel, and around to the Davies Centre/Osler Hall doors.

Four Friday seminars

October 31 - November 21, 2008 at 10:00 am

at the house of Rod Anderson and Merike Lugus, 1940 Hill 60 Road, Cobourg

Get Driving Directions

With generous support from Trinity College School

SCIENCE and ART, Points of Convergence? - Northumberland Learning Connection Lecture Series

Albrecht Dürer, from "The Painter's Manual", c. 1525  

Science: A branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiments with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the material universe.

Art: The various branches of creative activity concerned with the production of imaginative designs, sounds, ideas, etc. e.g. painting, music, writing etc. considered collectively.

Compact Oxford Canadian Dictionary, Second Edition, 2006

"A wonderful harmony arises from joining together the seemingly unconnected." - Heraclitus, c.500 BC

In conventional thinking, art and science are separate worlds – one creative, passionate, and romantic the other cold, rigorous, and objective. In this new series of lectures and seminars we will probe the boundary between the two and see whether it is porous.

We may discover that:

•Artist and scientist have a common goal: to examine reality and to find in it patterns and constructs.

•Both are driven by a passion for understanding and explanation.

•Both work from imagination and informed guesses.

•Science may be less objective than we have been led to believe. Art may be less subjective.

•The arts have affected science. Science has influenced visual artists, musicians and writers.

•The divide between them may be unbridgeable.

Our probes will be led by five of Canada’s foremost thinkers in this field. With them we will examine the relationships that exist between art and science in the contexts of art, music, literature, and theatre. By the end we will have new insights into the directions of arts and science in the 21st century.

Northumberland Learning Connection gratefully acknowledges the support of Trinity College School, one of Canada's oldest and most respected educational institutions. Renowned for its challenging curriculum and abundant opportunities in the arts, athletics and community service, TCS welcomes community outreach projects and salutes NLC's mission to foster lifelong learning by providing multidisciplinary programs in an integrated way to the residents of Northumberland County.

1 - Ian Hacking

One of Canada’s most honoured intellectuals, Ian Hacking is Emeritus University Professor of Philosophy in the University of Toronto and recently retired from the Collège de France in Paris. He is known as a bridge-builder who makes sense of the fundamental issues that unite discrete disciplines. His scientific and popular publications include The taming of chance, a book on probability that was one of the Modern Library's 100 Best Non-Fiction Books in English since 1900; the only other Canadian on the list is John Kenneth Galbraith.

Lecture: October 30, 2008 - The Secrets of Nature

Some 2500 years ago the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “Nature likes to hide.” To him there were many ways to uncover nature: prayer, poetry, philosophy, astronomy, metallurgy, music, all part of the same enterprise. But the unity of nature ended soon. By the time of Plato poetry and philosophy were quarrelling: imagination versus the search for facts. The quarrel continues. We have discovered more and more human capacities to approach, interact with, and relate to the world we inhabit. These abilities have increasingly diverged. Different skills make for different worlds. Is it false nostalgia to imagine these worlds can be bridged or re-unified?

Seminar: October 31, 2008 - The Two Cultures

Exactly fifty years ago C. P. Snow described the gulf between the arts and sciences – two cultures, he said, that do not speak to one another. The greater fault, he said, lay with the arts. Snow spoke for England in 1957. Is what he said valid today? If it is, is that bad?

2 - Paul Hoffert

Paul Hoffert is a visionary with solid credentials in both arts and technology. He studied mathematics and physics at the University of Toronto and worked at the National Research Council in Ottawa, but he is better known as a recording artist, performer, author, film composer, and co-founder of Lighthouse, a rock group that sold millions of records and earned three Juno Awards as one of Canada’s leading pop bands. He was the first artist to chair the Ontario Arts Council (1994-97). Paul is a professor of Fine Arts at York University, former Faculty Fellow at Harvard Law School, and founder of CulTech Research Centre. The Financial Post named him a New Mandarin along with Bill Gates.

Lecture: November 6, 2008 - Art and Science as Right Brain Siblings

Public and private policies have driven a wedge between the arts and sciences. Cultural creators – film makers, composers, writers, and other artists – look to arts councils and the like for financial support; scientists and engineers – the creators of technology – get their support from academic research councils. Private foundations and corporations generally assist either arts or science, but rarely both. As a result, projects involving the intersection of arts and sciences find it difficult to qualify for funding. Yet these areas of intersecting interests have become the focus of 21st century life. What does this mean for the future of creativity – both technological and cultural – in Canada?

Seminar, November 7, 2008 - Why Are Scientists Drawn to the Arts?

Scratch the surface of most scientists and you are likely to find a serious musician or practitioner of another art. There is growing evidence that exposure to music creates neural pathways in the brain between the right and left hemispheres, encouraging the mingling of rational and creative thought. What does this say about the so-called divide between the arts and sciences?

3 - Vivian Rakoff

Vivian Rakoff is professor emeritus and former chair of the department of psychiatry, University of Toronto and former director and psychiatrist-in-chief at the Clarke Institute, Toronto (now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health). In addition to his professional publications he has written plays for radio and television and is known as a popular lecturer.

Lecture: November 13, 2008 - Medicine as an Art

Until the end of the 19th century – even until the end of World War II – much of medicine was practised in the realms of the creative and the humanistic. There was not much science, although medicine always aimed towards science. What has changed since then and what do the changes mean?

Seminar: November 14, 2008 - Doctors in Literature

Continuing last night’s conversation, Dr Rakoff will consider the representation of doctors in literature and what it says about our perception of medicine.

4 - Keith Oatley

Keith Oatley is a professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, with a special interest in the psychology of emotions and the psychology of fiction. He is the author or co-author of some 150 journal articles and chapters and six books on psychology. He is also author of two novels. The case of Emily V., in which Freud and Sherlock Holmes work on the same case, won the 1994 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel. The second, A natural history, is set in the mind of a scientist as he strives to discover the nature of infectious disease.

Lecture: November 20, 2008 - Experiencing Science in Novels and the Theatre

A small set of fictional works enable the general reader to enter the minds of scientists and experience their excitements, frustrations, and insights. In these works science and literature are integrated and human thought extended. They include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Henrik Ibsen’s Enemy of the people, Bertold Brecht’s Galileo, and Ursula LeGuin’s The left hand of darkness. By becoming a scientist in imagination, can we better understand the quest for cures and debates about current issues such as stem cell research and climate change?

Seminar, November 21, 2008 - Imagination in science and in literature

Is there really a divide between the imaginative novelist and the databased sciences? Some of the great moments of science have been acts of imagination, thought experiments rather than observations. Professor Oatley will describe the psychological properties of imaginative creativity, and explore similarities and differences in how scientists and writers of fiction use it in their work.

5 - Sketches of Frank Gehry Film: November 27, 2008

One of the tasks of the scientific world is to find a suitable form to render its discoveries in simple terms, understandable to all, according to the British scientist Stephen Hawking. Filmmaking has long been used to capture and conserve scientific phenomena and technological achievement. In Sketches of Frank Gehry two long-time friends – the architect Frank Gehry and movie director Sydney Pollack – examine the former’s way of thinking about form, space, and construction. Robert Moss, engineer and Port Hope resident, who has collaborated with Gehry in the current renovation of the Art Gallery of Ontario and other projects, will take part in discussion following the film.

6 - Lee Smolin

Lee Smolin has held full-time or visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, Yale, Syracuse, Penn State, Cambridge, and Oxford Universities, and Imperial College, London. In 2001 he moved to Canada as a founding member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, where he has been ever since. His main contributions to research are in the field of quantum gravity, but he has contributed to other approaches including string theory, quantum mechanics, elementary particle physics, and theoretical biology. He has a strong interest in philosophy and his three books, Life of the cosmos, Three roads to quantum gravity and The trouble with physics are in part philosophical explorations of issues raised by contemporary physics.

Lecture: December 4, 2008 - The reality of time

Time is the most mysterious aspect of reality and has puzzled thinkers from the ancient Greeks down to contemporary quantum cosmologists. Many have come to the view that we don't have to understand time because it is an illusion, because what is most real and true in the world is timeless. Dr Smolin will advocate the opposite view: that what is real and true is only such in a moment that is one of a succession of present moments. He will discuss the implications of this view for physics, biology and our understanding of human society.

"Imaginatively organized and impeccably run, NLC series of lectures provides an engaging and informative way to explore new areas of interest." - Thais M. Donald

“One of the great pleasures in life is learning and NLC provides a wonderful facility for doing that right here with provocative speakers, informative lectures, and stimulating seminars. I can't believe how ignorant I was in many of these areas and I look forward to removing more ignorance as I attend future series.” - Rod Anderson