feynman on beauty: in the eye of all beholders
WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU LOOK AT A FLOWER? Is the image altered by your particular point of view–whether that of an artist, scientist, or honeybee? I think it helps to be one part of each (which to me is what it means to be a gardener–to witness nature from all those perspectives at once, no?). The latest video by Canadian filmmaker Reid Gower overlays the words of the late Nobel physicist Richard Feynman with images of immeasurable beauty, and touches on those questions and more.
Reid Gower’s YouTube channel includes the other films in his series on Feynman; his “Sagan Series” (honoring Carl Sagan), and more. You can also find him on Twitter. My favorite passage from the video:
‘Science Knowledge Only Adds to the Excitement’
“I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say ‘look how beautiful it is,’ and I’ll agree. Then he says, ‘I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,’ and I think that 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 may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … that I can appreciate the beauty of a flower.
“At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.” –Richard Feynman
Here’s to cultivating curiosity, with a measure of awe, disbelief, delight–and science.
(Thanks to Maria Popova of the brilliant Brain Pickings [dot] org for alerting me to this latest video of Gower’s.)