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The Poetry and Music of Science

Comparing Creativity in Science and Art

Tom McLeish



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Oxford University Press
14 March 2019
The Poetry and Music of Science breaks the silence on the deep creativity and imagination required in science, as necessary as its formal logic. Some aspects of science and art bear close comparison - examples are: the art of the novel and the art of scientific experimentation, the use of visual thinking in painting and physics, the properties of number in music and mathematics. The book eavesdrops on conversations between scientists on how new theories arise, and listens to artists' and composers' witness of their own creative processes. Medieval philosophy, neuroscience, musical analysis, the physics of light and theology are all brought to bear on the question of how minds imagine and create the new, and how art and science both contribute to what makes us human.
By:   Tom McLeish
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 219mm,  Width: 149mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   650g
ISBN:   9780198797999
ISBN 10:   0198797990
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   14 March 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction: Creativity and Constraint 1: Creative Inspiration in Science 2: Seeing the Unseen: Visual Imagination, and the Unconscious 3: Experimental Science and the Art of the Novel 4: Music and Mathematics: Creating the Sublime 5: Emotion and Reason in Scientific Creation 6: The End of Creation

Tom McLeish FRS is Professor of Natural Philosophy at York University, where he works with chemists, engineers and biologists in universities and industry to connect material properties with their molecular structure. He also works on connections between science and policy, history (e.g. interdisciplinary re-examinations of medieval scientific treatises) and the humanities, resulting in the recent books Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP 2014). He was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University (2008-2014) and is Chair of the Royal Society's Education Committee. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993.

Reviews for The Poetry and Music of Science: Comparing Creativity in Science and Art

Within the short compass of this subtle and elegant exposition, McLeish tackles one of the most disabling narratives of our time. Creativity is neither a luxury nor a disqualification in a world whose survival requires all our imaginative resources, and it infuses the arts and sciences in uncannily similar ways. The author has also created a rare and beautiful thing: few could embrace such a range of artistic and scientific endeavour with such an uplift. * Marilyn Strathern DBE, Professor of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University * Anyone who believes that imagination, inspiration and creativity are the preserve of the arts should read this beautifully crafted ode to the enterprise of scientific discovery. * Jim Al-Khalili OBE FRS, Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Surrey * Where do creative ideas come from? There is an answer, and it is the same in art as in science. There is a hidden wellspring inside the human mind from which they arise continuously. Tom McLeish provides meticulous evidence by interrogating the greatest minds. The result is a brilliant kaleidoscopic view of the history of imagination. * Uta Frith FBA FRS, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience * This kind of book is rarer than it should be, and all the more valuable. It dares to take seriously and probe deeply the interplay of the arts and the sciences. In place of the tired notion of Two Cultures, Tom McLeish reveals - passionately, and with great scholarship - the many meaningful points of contact between the sciences and music, literature and visual art. May this start a new and rich conversation! * Philip Ball, Science Writer * McLeish chases the echoes between scientific and artistic creativity in this intriguing scholarly treatise. * Nature * McLeish takes his reader on a journey through classical, medieval, romantic and modern art and science, exploring similarities in the creative processes that drove the greatest painters, writers and scientists towards their accomplishments... There are a number of vivid descriptions of seminal pieces of physics that showcase McLeish's talent for communicating science... interwoven with equally lavish introductions of many works of art and personal experiences of artists. * David Abergel, Nature Physics * [McLeish] proves himself [an] extreme interdisciplinarian ... Thanks to its poetic nature and compelling signposts for discussion, I suspect McLeish's book would have aphrodisiac qualities for the right audience... No matter what your field, you will come away from the book sold, as I am, on the need to prioritise time for creative gestation. * Rivka Isaacson, Times Higher Edcuation Supplement *

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