Friday, September 11, 2009

A Beautiful Mind

The beautiful mind of Richard P. Feynman, a Nobel laureate in physics, as elucidated in the following extract from his book: What do you care what other people think, published in 1988 by Unwin Hyman Limited (page 13).

“I have a friend who’s an artist, and he sometimes takes a view which I don’t agree with. He’ll hold up a flower and say, “Look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. But then he’ll say, “I, as an artist, can see how beautiful a flower is. But you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull.” I think he’s kind of nutty.

First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people – and to me, too, I believe. Although I might not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is, I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. But at the same time, I see much more in the flower than he sees. I can imagine the cells inside, which also have a beauty. There’s beauty not just at the dimension of one centimetre; there’s also beauty at a smaller dimension.

There are the complicated actions of the cells, and other processes. The fact that the colors in the flower have evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; that means insects can see the colors. That adds a question: does this aesthetic sense we have also exist in lower forms of life? There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds, I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

The audio visual version of the above is available in You Tube

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