I just posted this about unknowables in science on our YASMIN discussion on
the Super Natural in art science
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aprille, glenn, martha, lilian and several other yasminers
As a scientist ( physics then astrophysics) I am very comortable
of unknowables that are developed within science and mathematics
the most obvious of these is goedel’s theorem in math and i have lived
all my life with the understanding that certain things in the universe
are unknowable- eg beyond the event horizon in general relativity
eg you cant know even theoretically about the internal stucture
of a black hole (or before the big bang) because signals cant
get out- you can know the mass and charge, angular momentum
of a black hole but
not about much more ( the famous ‘no hair’ problem)
yeah i know that stephen hawkin has been nibbling away at this
in complexity theory ( not my field) we understand that we cannot
predict in detail the future state of a complex system derived from
the interaction rules between the components- because certain
properties are ‘emergent”
I found this interesting article by John Casti of the Santa Fe Institute
on The Outer Limits: In Search of the “Unknowable” in Science
Casti talks about a number of unknowables such as Alan Turing’s
interestingly he talks about the Heiseberg uncertainty principal
which i had thought argues that one cannot know to infinite precision
both the location and velocity of a quantum particle- Casti argues
this might be a mathematical limit to understanding not a physical limit
he discusses at some length whether some things are fundamentally
“uncomputable” – we recently argued at length with mathematician
and computer artist frieder nake who feels strongly that many
pheonena are theoretically uncomputable
he describes the problem as one of mapping either mathemical models or
computer models on to the natural world
i am very comfortable
with the idea that certain things about the world
are supernatural in the sense that they can not be modelled either
with mathematics or computer models= or are theoretically unobservable
such as the interior structure of a black hole
of course this use of the word super natural is not the common one
and could be misleading
like paul i dont think pseudo science enters into this discussion
but i must admit Lilian has got me thinking about pseudo art
my friend and physics colleague jean marc levy leblond indeed
would argue that most art science is pseudo art !!
Announcing a Yasmin Discussion: beginning Oct 15 2014
The Plight of the Supernatural in an Art-Science World
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We are pleased to announce a Leonardo – YASMIN discussion on the topic of the “supernatural” as a concept, as it relates to science, to pseudo-science, and to the pairing of art with science. The discussion will commence the week of October 15. Some preliminary questions to ponder are:
- What if any at all, specious or not, is the relationship between the supernatural which is understood to be a religious/magical concept, and post-Newtonian contemporary physics whose deep mysteries challenge our understanding of “natural” as a scientific concept?
- The rise of Art-Science should not ignore the stunning fact that most of the planet’s population, including some scientists and likely many artists, continues to believe that a dualistic material nature and magical supernature co-exist, and that the latter out-rules the former in its stewardship of the Cosmos. Such belief is manifest in contemporary versions of ancient myths.
- To science, the supernatural is a non-concept — it does not exist, since it is not amenable to the scientific method. It is indistinguishable from fantasy and the imaginary. Its exclusion is a central premise of science, which would never abandon an investigation of the confusing physics of dark matter, for example, by declaring those mysteries to lie on the other side of a natural/supernatural divide. Can the supernatural, to the extent that it represents mystery and the unknown, be naturalized? Could religion continue its mission without the concept of a supernatural universe?
- To what definition of “science” does art connect in the art-science enterprise, if it does not also, like science, dismiss the supernatural as a fiction?
- Is there an art-pseudoscience movement concealed within the art-science movement?
- The sustainability of the traditional definition of the supernatural is in trouble. Art, which has the capacity to endow that which is material with poetic, transcendent, and emotional qualities, has paired up with science. Could it eventually make religion as we know it obsolete? Can art provide for a sensation of “the spiritual” in a non-supernatural paradigm? Scientist Stuart Kauffman has argued that the sciences of complexity allows us to ‘re-invent the sacred”.
- Concepts once considered paranormal or supernatural and “outside of science” such as remote viewing, are now enabled by distance viewing technologies available on every cell phone.
- What intellectual domain “owns” a legitimate discussion of the existence or non-existence of the supernatural? Most would say religion and theology – but neither of those can provide any actual information about the supernatural, a concept that is central to their beliefs – not what it is, where it is, or how it works. Religion and theology do not own the supernatural discourse any more than they did the question of which orbits the other, the Earth or the Sun.
- In terms of its art historical roots, how does art-science relate to the gradual decline of belief in the supernatural over the last two centuries, beginning with 19th century art’s deconstruction of illusionistic space in painting and its relocation of avant-garde aesthetics to real space (the same space that science studies)?
The Discussion Moderator is Stephen Nowlin, Vice President, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where he is director of the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery. His curatorial practice emphasizes the intersection of art and science.
Discussants will include:
Nancy Lowe, artist, catalyst for art-science collaborations
Director of Symbiosis Art+Science Alliance (symbASA)
Author, “Physics on the Fringe,” co-curator, “Crochet Coral Reef”
Director, The Institute For Figuring, Los Angeles
Andres Collazo, PhD
Director, Beckman Institute Biological Imaging Center
California Institute of Technology
Daniel Lewis, PhD
Chief Curator of Manuscripts (History of Science, Medicine, and Technology)
Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens
Joseph Klein, DMus
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Chair, Division of Composition Studies
University of North Texas College of Music
Martha Blassnigg, PhD
Reader in the Anthropology of Media | Transtechnology Research | Editor, Transtechnology Research Open Access Papers | Associate Editor, Leonardo Reviews and L|R|Q * Plymouth University
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