Scientists and Musicians Compare Notes
(posted: May 19, 2011)
NPR has an interesting story on All Things Considered this week: One of the challenges among scientists is to describe the work they do in language the rest of us can understand. That’s the idea behind a new program at the University of Tennessee that uses music to bridge that communication gap.
The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, or NIMBioS, isn’t a place for intellectual lightweights. The whiteboards are tagged with the frenetic graffiti of advanced math, and the conversations are dense with the mysterious jargon of advanced science. So the last thing you’d expect to see there is an office door with a sign reading, “Songwriter in Residence.”
The Songwriter in Residence program is the brainchild of NIMBioS director Louis Gross. Gross noticed that the scientists and mathematicians with whom he works aren’t always that good at communicating their ideas in a concise, accessible way. Moreover, he says, most people don’t really have the time or patience to wade through complicated explanations of scientific theory. As a result, we don’t always have a good sense of what scientists are doing.
Songwriters are used to taking complex concepts like love and heartbreak and condensing them into short, easy-to-understand stories — it’s how people like Jay Clark make a living.
Read & listen to the whole story from NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/05/17/136402623/scientists-and-musicians-compare-notes?sc=emaf