Saturday, May 30, 2015

Documentary about a scientist using art to make discoveries.

Painting the Way to the Moon is a feature documentary about Princeton mathematician and artist Ed Belbruno and how he found a new way of space travel using chaos theory.

The documentary,
"is Ed's first hand account of his time at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and of how he used chaos theory and painting to find a way for satellites to travel (for example, from the earth to the moon) using very little fuel. Also known as 'ballistic capture', this would allow satellites to 'surf the gravitational field' to get from one point to the next.

But Ed's theory was rejected, and he had to give up trying to convince his peers that his work was worthwhile. Just then, Ed was given the chance of a lifetime when a JPL engineer knocked on Ed's door to ask if his theory could be used to rescue a Japanese satellite, which had malfunctioned on its way to the moon. What happened next changed space travel and put Ed's life on a new trajectory.
Painting the Way to the Moon shows how art and science share a common process."

Ed says, "(Van Gogh) did paintings so fast, that they have an element of reality that we don't see, because we're thinking." So that's what Belbruno did, too.

This is not the only time that Belbruno used his paintings to lead the way to new discoveries about the deep nature of the universe. Here's an article that talks about his discovery of "alternate time" through his artwork.

Friday, May 29, 2015

What does art/science collaboration really mean?

Eric Magrane is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Geography at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Eric's work is, "particularly interested in the encounters that ensue when creative practices occur within environmental research or tourism sites and how contemporary artworks and poetries may reflect, complicate, or disrupt environmental narratives."

Magrane is Poet in Residence at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, leading the design for poetry installations at the museum. Eric is currently in a van with a group of students somewhere in the Great Basin, leading a class that is visiting many of the iconic land art sites, and several field research facilities in the American Southwest.

He also maintains a blog for the Institute of the Environment called, "Proximities". Here is a great post about what art/science collaboration means. The article includes this thought-provoking quote from Barbara Morehouse:
"This is not about making scientists out of artists or vice versa; it is perhaps more about rethinking the Renaissance ideal of intellectual versatility in the context of very complicated times. It’s about developing a fully developed understanding of the environments we enjoy and on which we must necessarily depend."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

NEH Common Good program

The National Endowment for the Humanities is up to some interesting things.

Here's a note from Eva Caldera, Assistant Chairman for Partnership and Strategic Initiatives (emphasis added):
Our new NEH initiative, The Common Good: Humanities in the Public Square, includes an invitation to the humanities community to examine opportunities for the humanities to contribute to the changing understanding of the relationships between humans and the natural environment. If you or any of your colleagues would like to learn more about the initiative or its grant programs or the work of the Endowment more generally, please feel free to be in touch.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Great meeting tool

Free Conference CallingThis probably looks like spam, but I thought it would be a useful thing to pass along.

We just tried this service--Free Conference Calling. It turned out to be a great tool for staying connected. It is very easy to use and reliable. You can record and archive your meetings, too, for folks who can't be there.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Interesting paper on art at LTER sites

Earth Stewardship
Ecology and Ethics Volume 2, 2015, pp 249-268

Arts and Humanities Efforts in the US Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network: Understanding Perceived Values and Challenges

Lissy Goralnik, Michael Paul Nelson, Leslie Ryan, Hannah Gosnell


Calls for interdisciplinary approaches to environmental problem-solving are common across the biophysical and social sciences. Recently, some of these collaborations have incorporated the creative arts and humanities, including projects across the 24 sites of the US Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) network. A substantial body of artistic and written work has been produced by LTER-affiliated sites. However, there has been no systematic analysis of this work. We used a cross-site, social scientific analysis to understand the extent and nature of arts and humanities inquiry in the LTER network and to assess perceptions about the values and challenges associated with it. We found that 19 of the 24 LTER sites agree or strongly agree that arts and humanities inquiry is important and relevant for the sites. Perceived values of this work include its goodness in and of itself, as well as its ability to foster outreach and public involvement and to inspire creative thinking. Contrarily, participants identified funding, available labor, and available expertise as limiting factors in the growth of arts and humanities inquiry in the LTER network. Respondents highlighted themes relevant to the relationship between ecological science and ethics, including participants’ willingness to accept fostering empathy, an identified value of arts and humanities inquiry, as pertinent to LTER network goals and research on some level. This ethical potential of arts and humanities inquiry in the LTER network provides an opportunity to bridge ecological research with arts and humanities inquiry in ways that are meaningful for Earth stewardship.