Week I/Two Cultures/Nathan Reynolds

*NOTE* I was not enrolled in this class for the first three weeks of winter quarter.  I am simply doing these assignments to say that I completed everything.  I do not expect a grade for them as they are horrendously late otherwise.

            It is becoming considerably more and more obvious that the disciplines of science and humanities are separating when given nothing more than a glance.  This is because from such a glance, devoid of critical thought, one is not expected to see similarities.  They seem incompatible even.  It’s especially obvious from within our own campus in UCLA.  Our two “cultures” or halves of the same campus are divided by what we refer to as Bruin Walk.  There is a distinguishable difference between the two sides as well.  North Campus, the humanities side of the school is home to beautiful architecture (with the exception of Bunche) and places dedicated to the arts.  South campus is noticeably shabbier looking but has smarter students driven to do all things related to science (I state this with the bias of an Aerospace Engineer, please do not take this personally you tender northern children).

            Taking these comparisons to a global scale, statements made in works of literature such as C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures seem to be verified in many disciplines and aspects of life.  What is the purpose of engineering in explaining the shape of a rainbow?  What purpose can beautiful words find within a machine?  Indeed, we have been taught to view these two cultures as separate, and it is easy to do so.

            However, these statements can only truthfully be made based on the glance alone.  These glances are devoid of critical thought and comprehension.  Neither culture in its purest and most fundamental form allows for a lack of critical thought, and thus this statement must be false.

            So what?  We’ve said that this statement is false.

            What’s next?  Prove it.

            The massive ice-pick that is perfect for climbing this glacier manifests itself in the works on a man I’ve been doing research on for a while now, named Theo Jansen.  I comment on this man a lot simply because he has made it a point to bridge the gap between art and science.  There is genius in its purest form within his mind, capable of doing great things, and he chooses to unify and remove the differences between art and science, and showing how one’s existence is the key to the appreciation of the other.  He has gone so far as to state in a commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcR7U2tuNoY):

            “The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.”

            This bold statement provokes thought concerning the chasms that we have created between art and science.  If such walls exist only within the mind, then art and science should be mixed in subtle ways that are not readily noticeable unless conscious thought is applied.

            What is the purpose of engineering in explaining the shape of a rainbow?  When one thinks about it, engineering explain, and recreate the shape of the rainbow with its own metallic touch.

Even when the rainbow fades, the Arch continues to exist.

Even when the rainbow fades, the Arch continues to exist.



            What purpose can beautiful words find within a machine?  Do machines appreciate poetry, or a long narrative?  I assure you that the system server could care less about the blog you’re reading now.  However, the wrong question is being applied.  Can words make a machine beautiful?  Can a language make a machine something wondrous?  The answer lies in what language is applied.  English may be good for explaining the robot, but translate this language into what the machine understand, and it can do amazing things in both reality and fantasy: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_EejNYSzmE&feature=related), (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL5c2DUnYno) 

            Science itself can be, and is, beautiful.  When Spirit touched down and sent pictures of Mars back to Earth, science gave humanity a change to glimpse something that their ancestors could only see as a speck of light in a dark sky.  When surgeons restore a nearly lost limb to a patient, the healing process is miraculous and precise.  In order for science to work, there must be an art to the methods, lest the methods prove ineffective.

            Art is also scientific.  Dancing the swing requires a series of precise, almost routine steps with a few variations that can lead to countless permutations.  It is art, but without the science to hold it together, it would not work (well, it might, but we call that freak dancing).  An artistic sculpture mimicking the human body requires an acute and scientifically based knowledge of the human body.  Without it, the features become abstract and flawed.  It might be considered art, but its awe-inspiring characteristics are replaced by repulsive flaws.

            In the end, there is a difference between art and science.  There is a visible line that can be drawn between the two disciplines, but a wall does not need to exist.  In fact, in order for one to truly appreciate one of the two disciplines, he must be able to compare it and see the similarities it bears to the other discipline.  Without the differences between art and science, the world would be hopeless monotonous.  It is like night and day.  Both have their beauties and their flaws, but their differences should not be viewed as something negative.  Both need to be seen in their own light and cherished for what they are.

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