Sunday, March 26, 2006

Weekend Stuff: Poetry, Science, Arts and Writing

Whale Poetry
I read in Live Science yesterday - Grammar Revealed in the Love Songs of Whales
Well, you know I don't do poetry, but this is different:
The love song of a humpback whale sounds magnificently free-flowing and improvised to the casual human listener.

But fresh mathematical analysis of shows there are complex grammatical rules. Using syntax, the whales combine sounds into phrases, which they further weave into hours-long melodies packed with information.

Art and Science
You know how much I love combining the sciences with the arts. Apparently, I'm not the only one. The Nation has an article reviewing The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th Century Science, Including the Original Papers by Alan Lightman.
In this book Lightman collected not only important breakthroughs but the papers the scientists wrote about them, claiming these papers have artistic merit:
Lightman seems to believe that the original articles have an aesthetic value in themselves. "Like poetry these papers have their internal rhythms, their images, their beautiful cystallizations, their sometimes fleeting truths," he writes, somewhat feverishly. They are "the great novels and symphonies of science."

Wikipedia vs. Encyclopaedia Britannica
I use wikipedia quite a bit despite it coming under attack about inaccuracies a few months ago. I do try to make sure that I use it more for general things rather than details. I trust the details less as they would attract less attention from other knowledgeable persons and would therefore be corrected less often.
However, according to Nature, similar amount of inaccuracies exist in Britanicca as well. I couldn't get the original Nature article, so this is just a fallout in BBC.

Grade 8 Math
Finally, from The Soapbox a little test of your Grade 8 math. Naturally, I got an A+ (10/10). Not trying to be obnoxious, just my geek facts of life...
Test your grade 8 math

Categories: , , ,


Patry Francis said...

I often find science boring, but Lightman reminds me that boring is in the eye of the beholder. I need to look more closely. Thanks for the links.

Chris A. Jackson said...

As a scientist, I see art in nature all the time, but I don't know if I can agree about art in a scientific paper. Surely there is balance and rhythm in a paper, but art? If there is artistic value there, it is with the same intention that it is in nature, ie none. I suppose you could argue that there is artistic value in everything, to a point...

Anonymous said...

I use Wiki a lot but mostly for fun stuff like music and movies. I think that it's great site but I wouldn't use it to write a term paper or anything like that.

threeapples said...


Yours is one of the most useful sites I have seen.


Melly said...

You're welcome Patry :)
Science can be boring if one is trying to understand or read something that is over his/her head. I can't read papers, they're way over my head, but interesting scientific facts and theories are of great interest to me.

It's great to have a scientist here, Chris. I think that Lightman's point is that some papers are written artisticly, or literary. Yet, the article does maintain that reading even these artistic papers is nearly impossible for people non-scientists. So how can we judge it? I'm not sure.
Maybe you can tell us :)

Fred, I never thought people would rely on wikipedia for term papers. You think?
In any event, the Nature study claims that Britannica has inaccuracies as well. So go figure where you're safe.

Thanks, Lazarus.

Charles said...

Wikipedia also has its own set of Britannica inaccuracies:

Rose DesRochers said...

You don't do poetry? That's it I'm never surfing into your blog again. :) I'm so joking. I enjoyed the visit and will be sure to return even if I'am a poet. LOL

rdl said...

I failed, what a surprise. I can't do my son's 6th grade math! boy Melly you are a genius, math and science!

Melly said...

Now why doesn't that surprise me Charles? :)

Rose, thanks :)
It means a lot that being a poet you forgive me. And really, there's no reason not to, I always maintained that it's more complicated than my wee brain could comprehend...

Some genius, rdl, but thanks.
Some people simply enjoy that, and some grow up fearing it - that's all. I'm 100% sure that up to a certain level, given the right teacher, we could all do math easily.

Jennifer said...

Now you know I had to go take the test. Math used to be a favorite subject of mine.

Apparently I could pass eigth grade :D

I got 9 out of 10. (Not sure which question I got wrong though. It didn't tell me!)

Deborah said...

I was so proud of myself when I got a C in Trig a decade ago. But you know what they say: Use it or lose it. Needless to say, I failed.

Melly said...

Jennifer, of course you had to :)

Deborah, oh well... use it or lose it indeed :)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, if you don't do poetry you may be attempting the wrong poetry. may I suggest:

nothing shallow, overly arty, or delibrately obscure.

Melly said...

Thanks Anonymous, I'll take a look.

Jean said...

I missed one. I know which one, too.

Jean said...

No, I didn't know. I did go back and find it though. Always go with your first instinct on a multiple choice test. When will I ever learn?

Melly said...

Jean, these things - we never learn. It's either in us or not :)
It's an interesting point about living or learning to rely more on intuition.