Science and Art

Dennis White talked about the connection of math and the art in his belts. How the patterns in the belt were similar to patterns of numbers. There is a broader connection between art and science, and my thoughts on that follow.

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The art of Dennis White, the similarity of patterns in cloth and patterns in numbers.

The atmosphere is complex, and we continually seek to represent the atmosphere in computer models and conceptual models. Conceptual models of weather are particularly important in both research and education.

What do I mean by a conceptual model? A conceptual model is a simple construct that represents the heart of a complex entity.So of like how a smiley face can be used to represent the human face.

Problems arise when representational models become real models. And this is sometimes a problem in science education, where we make extensive use of conceptual models. In meteorology one model that often leads to misconceptions is one that is used to explain the seasons. If asked what causes the seasons, many people will say that summer is when we are closest to the sun. From personal experience this makes sense as the closer to a barn fire we get the hotter we are.  But the problem with this reasoning is evidence – we are closest to the sun in January.  The cause of the seasons is that as we revolve around the sun the Earth’s axis of spin continually points to the North Star, and in our summer that direction is also towards our sun which leads to a greater concentration of the suns energy at our location.

Science rightfully needs a strict methodology that relies on data and repeatability. But artists can inspire the questions and representation of ideas. Once we acknowledge the idea of models of scientific process, now we can think of how to make these conceptual models better. The arts can offer science a new lens through which to see itself.

Steve

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