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The Poetry and Music of Science

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The Poetry and Music of Science

Comparing Creativity in Science and Art

Oxford UP,

15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The failure to acknowledge the role of creativity in science keeps people from pursuing it as a career.

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  • Comprehensive
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The idea of a dichotomy between the worlds of science and the arts is a myth. Many historical and modern parallels exist in the ways practitioners of both derive and develop their ideas. Theoretical physicist Tom McLeish offers an erudite, academic treatise on creativity in science and the arts and takes a look at the way society perceives science and art. This is a deep, historical reading of the origins of science and the arts in mainstream Western thought. It’s essential reading for anyone who wants to explore the historical roots of creativity and the links between science and the arts.


A cultural division exists between art and science that ignores the common creative aspects of both.

A focus on the way creative imagination occurs in scientific practice can prompt a different way of looking at science. Science involves reimagining nature in a way that is similar to the ways novelists create fictional worlds. Moreover, scientific and artistic creativity both elicit similar emotions.

A divergence between science and the arts took place in the 19th century and continues into the 21st – a conflict that stems from a superficial understanding of science. Moreover, science is put at odds with religion as the result of a biased view of religion. The division between science on the one hand and religion and the arts on the other also moves away from the purpose of all three disciplines. “Creativity within constraint” is one way to look at commonalities in the sciences and the arts.

Creativity in science gets overlooked due to popular focus on the scientific method.

Based on portrayals of the scientific method as a rigid system, modern culture views science as too restrictive and lacking in creativity. In fact,&#...

About the Author

Theoretical physicist Tom McLeish, PhD, is a professor of natural philosophy in the University of York, England, physics department. His research focuses on molecular structure and more broadly on connections between science and policy, history and the humanities.

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