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Thu, Oct 27 2011 20:01:08 UTC

Science, Humor and Art discussion

Today, Science Live hosted a chat about science, art and humor, and how the three topics often intersect. Moderated by John Bohannon, the guest speakers were Marc Abrahams, founder of IgNobel and editor of Annals of Improbable Research, and Brian Wecht, a theoretical physicist at Harvard, also co-author of a comic called Ninja Sex Party.



The talk started right away with the topic of scientists and artists collaborating. Marc said ''an artists who (mentally) lives in the same world with scientists is a treasure.'' Artists tend to have an interesting perspective on science, and it's often them who inspire scientists, like in the case of science fiction becoming reality.

Creative process is a part of science, and what drives people to do interesting things. Brian said that ''the creative process is mostly about working your ass off, and that even the smartest people in the world only do worthwhile, interesting things a tiny fraction of the time.''

As for science being serious business, Marc disagrees and says that ''science is ''officially'' a serious business only long after a discovery is made and then generally accepted.'' When it's fresh however, it's fun and sometimes even humorous. Brian commented that he reads XKCD and likes this one in particular.

When asked for good examples of projects that combine science, humor and art, Brian pointed to this video while Mark commented ''the scientific community often does embrace papers that are funny. It helps if the science is good.'' Some scientific publishers even post entire joke, funny studies for April fools, like this one.

As for art in science, John said that ''adding art to anything makes it more interesting and accessible.'' Brian added that ''there's a place for adding art to science, but I think you need to be careful about picking your opportunities judiciously.'' Marc pitched in saying ''adding interesting art makes things more interesting. Adding off-the-shelf art makes them more off-the-shelfy.'' The group then talked about how media personalities like Stephen Colbert sometimes portray science and discovery in a very different, creative light.

The chat ended with talk of their favorite shows and books, and how some patent art can be quite interesting to see.

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