Quote of the Week: Abstract Physics

Insert “art” or “music” for “physics”:

new theoretical physics in any age is just as likely to be stimulated by the technologies of the moment as to be spun out platonically from the abstractions of the past.
That’s William R. Everdell, author of The First Moderns, in his glowing review of a new book of science history, Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare’s Maps: Empires of Time by Peter Galison. The review was published in this past Sunday’s New York Times, August 17, 2003. Everdell goes on to discuss, in brief, not only the influence of science on art (Poincare’s classic text, Science and Hypothesis, was apparently a favorite of Pablo Picasso and Paul Valery) but of the simultaneity of science and art: “As compound interest was equating time with money, Harvard Observatory began to sell time by telegraph and H.G. Wells imagined it as a fourth dimension along which one might travel. Wells’s contemporary Scott Joplin ‘ragged’ time against ‘common’ or march time, and Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey discovered how to stop time by resolving continuous motion into still images, which they and Edison put back together as ‘movies.'”

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