Sunday, November 01, 2009

brain power

This afternoon, our humble household was filled with incredible brain power as head researcher from one foundation was here along with husband and wife visitors from a leading biological research laboratory in the UK. Andy from the UK is a painter and sculptor as well as a biologist so that gave us something which I consider important to talk about... The ways human beings use metaphor and allegory to extend human knowledge through the formulation of hypothesis. I have discussed this earlier in the blog. Einstein did it as he formulated his theory of relativity based on contemplation of trains in a station. Rick, researcher from the US compared the mental use of metaphor to a form of evolution that hops rather than plods. We commonly use our comprehension of one thing to propose through analogy and metaphor the similarities in others. A recent example is the way researchers have utilized the computer analogy as a means to explain, compare and consider the functioning of the human brain. No the brain is not the same thing as a computer, but knowing something about how computers work can provide insight and hypotheses as a starting point for further research.

Human use of metaphor is where the arts and science are virtually indistinguishable and inseparable. By failing to interest and engage our children in the arts and hands-on creativity, we leave them the short end of the stick, unprepared and lacking confidence in their scientific exploration of reality. The arts provide an essential foundation of physiological effect from which to formulate hypotheses through which to extend human scientific and cultural understanding. And of course, the artists' exploration of the various capacities and qualities of his or her materials are virtually indistinguishable from the methods a scientist would use in the study of physical reality.

I think this is why one often finds scientists involved in hands-on activities in such things as painting and sculpture, or finding pleasure in such real down to earth activities as cooking or working in a garden.

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