Friday, December 15, 2006

Visualizing Science / Creativity / Pollock, Painting, and Fractals

[15 December 2006 - Science Friday - NPR] Sometimes, science can be hard to grasp -- and a good way to visualize a scientific topic can make all the difference. In this hour, we'll talk about a contest in which scientists are asked to present their best ways of visualizing their work -- whether it be a photograph, a painting, a movie, a computer simulation, or some other visual tool. You can see a slideshow of last year's winners, and learn more about entering this year's contest at the website for the Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. Entries are being accepted until May 31, 2007. Then, we'll turn to the question of just what creativity really is. From a soulful poem to an ingenious experiment, what sparks the creative process? Join Ira in this hour for a conversation with neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen about the creative and creating brain. How can we teach kids to be more creative? Finally, a look at how some physicists are trying to analyze the authenticity of Jackson Pollock paintings using fractals. Fractals are patterns which recur even when viewed at finer and finer magnifications, building up complex structures. Fractals can be found in the branching of a tree or the ripples of a coastline -- but can they be found in seemingly random paint drips and streaks? In 1999, Richard Taylor and colleagues argued that the paintings of Jackson Pollock showed what they termed 'fractal expressionism.' Other researchers have challenged the findings, arguing in the journal Nature that "the paintings exhibit fractal characteristics over too small a range to be usefully considered as fractal." We'll talk about the idea, and what it might mean. Can you 'fingerprint' a Pollock using fractals? Call in with your questions and comments at 1-800-989-8255 (3-4 Eastern). Teachers, find more information about using Science Friday as a classroom resource in the Kids' Connection. More

No comments:

Post a Comment