Scientific Beauty Versus Aesthetic Beauty

The following are the first two stanzas of the famous poem written by William Wordsworth on daffodils.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

This is how science describes daffodils:

Rank Scientific Name and Common Name
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Subclass Liliidae
Order Liliales
Family Liliaceae – Lily family
Genus Narcissus L. – daffodil
Species Narcissus pseudonarcissus L. – daffodil

I would also request you to watch the following video where Richard Feynman talks about a flower:

video courtesy: youtube

Well, by now the reader must be clear as to what I am hinting at. Science has always been thought of as a spoiler of aesthetic pleasure, since instead of enjoying things by accepting them as a creation of God, it asks questions. I personally feel that the two, scientific beauty and aesthetic beauty, go hand in hand.

My students are working towards the annual science fest. It involves events such as model making, debate, etc.. In the last few days I have been interacting with my students a tad more than the usual, the reason being the fest. I am really amazed at their interest in Science. They come up with such wonderful ideas and the passion with which they explain their ideas to me have left me amused to no lesser extent. What fuels their excitement much more this time is the fact that the theme of the fest, around which all the events will revolve, is “future-technology”.

In order to efficiently handle the preparations for the fest the student group has been segregated into various committees. Two of the main committees are the Scientific committee and the Creative committee. The interactions that I mentioned earlier was with the members of the Scientific committee, since I overlook the proceedings of that committee. Today I happened to meet some of the members of the Creative committee, who are mainly in-charge of invitations(hand-made) and posters(computer designed). When I looked at their work, I could not resist heeding to the aesthetic loving part of my personality. The hand-made invitations were out of the world. Particularly the one which was modelled as an atom with the logo of the fest being the central nucleus. I for once did not look into the science of it, but just admired its very being. The posters too were really amazing. It was just like how the aesthetic beauty of a flower overshadows its scientific beauty the very moment it is brought to your notice. I have always loved and admired the scientist’s way of looking at things, but now I have gained a lot of respect for the poet’s way of looking at things too.

They say “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”. I feel “beauty is in the eyes and the mindset of the beholder”.

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