An illustrated exploration of the fundamental connections between art and science, from an author who has lived in both worlds
In this thought-provoking book, Philip F. Palmedo, a former physicist who now writes on art, reveals how the two defining enterprises of humankind—art and science—are rooted in certain common instincts, which we might call aesthetic: an appreciation of symmetry, balance, and rhythm; the drive to simplify and abstract natural forms, and to represent them symbolically.
Palmedo traces these instincts back to a very early time in human history—demonstrating, for example, the level of abstract thinking required to create the stone tools and cave paintings of the Paleolithic—and then forward, to the builders of the Gothic cathedrals, to Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton, to Einstein and Picasso.
Illustrated with more than 125 creations of the genus Homo—from a flint hand ax chipped half a million years ago to the abstractions of Hilma af Klint and the James Webb Space Telescope—Palmedo’s text leaves us with a new appreciation of the instinct for beauty shared by artists and scientists alike.
About the Author
Philip F. Palmedo studied art history and physics as an undergraduate at Williams College, and received his PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT. Retired from a distinguished career as a research scientist and entrepreneur, Palmedo is the author of several books on art, most recently The Experience of Modern Sculpture: A Guide to Enjoying Works of the Past 100 Years.
"Philip Palmedo effortlessly moves between the worlds of art and science showing that they have always been one. The crux of his wonderfully illustrated narrative is to bring into sharp relief their quest in common for patterns, beauty, simplicity, symmetry and, of course, aesthetics. This book is a must read."—Arthur I. Miller, Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University College London, author of The Artist in the Machine: The World of AI-Powered Creativity