When I was very young, in my last few months of mental clarity before the storms of adolescence overwhelmed me, my career ambitions shifted from being a fireman, jet pilot, explorer, or police detective to becoming a scientist or writer. I was never quite able to choose between them, and these twin callings have defined my life and work in fundamental ways. Although our culture tends to treat science and literature (or any creative art) as irreconcilable ways of thinking, I had always felt they shared a deeper unity.
In the course of developing this web site, I had originally planned on addressing the tension between these two spheres of my intellectual life in its “About” section. Although I decided these thoughts did not really fit there, I was pleased to have finally articulated this long-held intuition and have decided to share it as posting:
- Science is our most reliable way of understanding the structure and behavior of the natural world.
- Literature and the arts are essential, enduring explorations of our inner lives and what it means to be human.
- Both are the source of unending wonders found in:
- science’s discoveries, from black holes to quanta to the neural and psychological foundations of our experience;
- the understanding of our humanity articulated by artists from Homer to Shakespeare, Bach to Ellington, neolithic cave painters to Matisse, and continuing in the creations of contemporary artists.
- Turning away from any of these wonders diminishes us as human beings.
Although Science and the Arts have their own rules and practices that must be respected, in a personal sense they are simply different perspectives on an intellectual journey I have taken throughout my life—and continue to pursue. This website, including my resume, technical papers, literary writings, and the entries in this blog, represents a series of reports on those explorations.