The Artful Science

Hello, my dear friends throughout the void, tuning in on your advanced media devices with the fashionable headphones, and the lovely faux leather carrying case. It is I, The Lotus Tea Dragon, here to give you the grapes on what I think, and what I think about what I think. It’s all a lovely sculpture, chiseled with the fine points of my wit, and polished with my tongue of reason.

Okay, that metaphor ended badly. Still, I do like to talk about art. I am a fan of it, truth be told, and sometimes the salve to soothe my burning curiosity, is to get myself lost in a painting, or a picture show. You see, that’s what I love about art; it’s totally subjective, and the message is open to interpretation. Such qualities in art, are not so wonderful in the field of science, where you want objectivity, observation, and solid data to back up your hypotheses.

Still, there is much art to be found in science. I find nothing so awe inspiring as to discover the down and dirty details of something I once took for granted. A few weeks ago, on Facebook, a friend of mine lamented that nearly half of the people living in the United States had no idea that our Sun is a star. I believe the number he cited was 47%. That’s a terrible commentary on the incuriosity of our culture. We take it for granted. We take SCIENCE for granted. How many people who hold their iPods, iPads, or Android phones, realize how much creativity went into that machine? One doesn’t have to know how an object works in order to use it; I don’t fault someone for using something of which they have no knowledge of its inner workings.
That said, there is an art to science, and it starts with the exquisite knowledge. Let’s look at the example I talked about a moment ago; our Sun is a star.

Have you ever heard the old science riddle that many people miss? It goes:
“What is the closest star to earth?”
On a good day, I might catch it fast enough and say, “the Sun!”
On an average day, or what I like to call “every day,” I might answer “Proxima Centauri,” which is 4.2 light years from Earth.

It’s just so easy for me to forget that our own Sun is a star, and that our star is amazing in it’s own right. I take it for granted, like many of us do. We look up into the sky and just expect it to be there. Well, okay, except for at night, but we expect it to be there the next day. To most of us, it’s just a big damned halogen lightbulb.

Yet, even as it burns brightly and continuously non-stop, and has for billions of years, and will for billions more, it is easy to forget the artistry. The Sun is a giant fusion plant, where gases are mixed and ignited in such a way as to create a blazing beacon that can be seen for millions of light years in all directions. It is our ever-present lighthouse among the teeming, rocky shores of our solar system. It’s solar winds bring us warmth, they provide us with the energy processes necessary to encourage life. In it’s own way, it is terrifyingly beautiful!

Consider, too, the atom. It is the basic building material of the universe. Look at it’s shape, how it’s formed; how it collides and fuses with other atoms to create matter; Solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. We couldn’t exist without atoms.

Have you thought of the wind? Rain? Birds that fly through the air? These things can be artistically rendered, but they also have a strong scientific foundation. Study how birds fly, and wonder at how fantastic it is that there are creatures that can defy the very ground we walk on, and use the atmosphere to create lift, and to glide high into the clouds, free from the bonds of gravity, if only for a little while.
One of my favorite scientists, Carl Sagan, used to bring this point of view so effectively into the layman’s mind. He was a brilliant man, and I owe my love and appreciation of science, and how it is art, to his influence. He believed in the ability to create, to wonder, to imagine. He was once quoted as saying, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”

It is my belief, as it was Carl’s, that art benefited science, and that science benefited art; that they complemented one another, and that an appreciation of both, together, could open doors to worlds we had never before dreamed, only to find that we had made those dreams reality.
So with that, I would like to thank you for listening to this podcast, and I hope that you will always continue to love one another, and to be kind to one another.

Until next time,
-.Lotus

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