April 12, 2008

Science and art compared

Albert Einstein was a great admirer of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and I believe I read somewhere he even considered his mind the greatest ever. But what about his own? Wasn't his own mind even greater? Is it even possible to compare artists and scientists in this respect? How do you compare Bach with Newton or Darwin with Beethoven? In a new book by Matt Ridley, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code (Eminent Lives), there is an interesting thought on this matter:
"Crick once told a newspaper reporter (in Hawaii): 'Unlike the jet engine, which had to be invented, the DNA structure was always there.' Scientific discoverers are dispensible in a way that artists are not. Gravity, America, and natural selection would all have been discovered by somebody else if Newton, Columbus, and Darwin had not gotten there first, whereas nobody would have written Hamlet, painted the Mona Lisa or composed the Ninth Symphony if Shakespeare, Leonardo, and Beethoven had not done so. Yet it is precisely because scientists have to be first that their achievement is even more remarkable. Shakespeare did not have to beat Marlowe to the first draft of Hamlet."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner