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Mar 1, 2011

"The great men of science are supreme artists." --Martin H. Fischer

Beauty and Science: A Conversation with Ed Johnson

As this distinguished molecular biologist says, "the ultimate decision of whether or not a piece of data is going to get used is completely subjective! To put it analytically, you look at your piece of data and you decide whether or not you think it looks pretty." He continues, "Scientists devote not just a great deal of energy in thinking about their problem, but devote a great deal of personal emotion. We get involved. I love to recall the words from a lecture Vladimir Nabokov used to give on Tolstoy. He used to say "Tolstoy wrote with the precision of the artist and the passion of the scientist." Inevitably some person would say, "Sir, didn't you get those reversed?" But, of course, he didn't. Johnson goes on to talk about beauty and consciousness in the context of today's practice of science...

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