Science Matters

A weekly feature (begun December 2004), supported by the Bryn Mawr College Center for Science in Society,
that highlights current news in the area of science and culture, and connects it with relevant materials on Serendip as well as Center activities.

For the week of March 28, 2005: Communication of Perception versus Fact
Online forum for continuing discussion  |  Archives

"Noting the Synchronicity of Life"
Commentator Ruth Levy Guyer is a scientist whose interests range beyond the strictly empirical. She reflects on the artistic and neurological phenomenon of synesthesia, and on synchronicities -- those spooky coincidences that crop up in life. (From NPR's "All Things Considered") Listen to broadcast...

 

“Bridging the Two Cultures: Communicating Science to the Media”
Brown Bag Discussion featuring Ruth Levy Guyer, Al Dorof, and Dorothy Wright, in which communication between scientists and journalists was discussed.

Interpreting Climatic Catastrophe:
Science In the Media or, Why Scientists are Afraid of Reporters

Don Barber invited us into a discussion of the often-frustrating attempts of climate scientists to communicate their results to the public.

Also of interest:
Popular Science: Writing About S&T for the Public
From Bryn Mawr's Science & Technology Newsletter

Synethesia and the Human Brain: Questions Answered and Questions Raised
At some point, most people consider the way that they perceive the world and how these perceptions may vary from other people's perceptions. We may wonder how the same words sound to different people, or whether or not colors are the same in everyone's eyes. Though most of these differences will never be resolved due to the indescribable nature of sensory observations, one key difference in the perception of the world has been pinpointed, that is, the world of the synesthete. Read more...

A Mad Artist Or Does He Really Hear Yellow? (And Why Should We Care)
When Kandinsky followed this comparatively general statement with detailed profiles for each basic color - light red, for instance, was "warm," gave one "a feeling of strength, vigor, determination, triumph," and corresponded to the "sound of trumpets, strong, harsh, and ringing" - some of his more outspoken readers suggested that the artist was more fit for an insane asylum than for a painter's career. While today we cannot deny Kandinsky's artistic merits, an interesting question remains. Were the details of his descriptions mere metaphors resulting from the vividness of his imagination? Or was there a physical experience behind such an extravagant way of seeing the world? Synesthesia suggests that every person's conscious perception of reality is different from everyone else's... Read more...

Artistic License: Color Vision and Color Theory
The ideas of color perception and color theory are interesting ones. How do humans account for color and does it truly exist? I think that by examining not only the neurological on-goings in the brain, but by learning about color through philosophy, and even art, a greater understanding of it can be reached.

On the lighter side...

"Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated." ~ George Santayana (1863-1952) U. S. philosopher and writer, from "The Life of Reason."

These pages have been created by Selene Platt in consultation with Paul Grobstein.
Please submit suggestions for other topics to explore in "Science Matters" to Selene Platt
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