Do women belong at MIT

Julia Frugoli jfrugoli at bio.tamu.edu
Tue Sep 5 10:50:04 EST 2000


Paul Brookes wrote:

Science is nothing like art!  Granted, some elegance 
>is required in presentation of one's results, and some scientific images 
>(e.g. fluorescent confocals) do have a certain artlike quality.  But to say 
>science needs a certain level of creativity is just missing the boat.   
>Science is peppered with people plodding away, with no creativity, just 
>logically applying method X to problem Y and getting answers that are 
>publishable - where's the creativity in that? 

Actually, from the big perspective, I think science and art have a lot in
common. I'd separate this into "scientists" and "SCIENTISTS", for lack of a
better term (any suggestions?)
There are artists plodding away applying method X and getting result Y to
produce marketable music, movies, etc-that doesn't mean they are
ARTISTS-they are people who know how to produce the fodder for popular
culture.  Really good art, IMHO,transcends culture and looks at it in a new
way, and that's why there are only a limited number of ARTISTS.  Really good
science, IMHO has an element of art to it-seeing something in a way that no
one else has before.  That's where the breakthroughs come.  Yes, you need to
have the techniques down-just like a musician needs her scales, and someone
has to produce the results that make up the bulk of science.  But knowing
how to get those results doesn't make you a SCIENTIST, only a scientist.

 How many artists do you 
>know that are scientists in their spare time?

I've always had a fondness for Leonardo DaVinci, but that may be because I'm
Italian :).

 Now turn that around - how 
>many scientists play musical instruments, paint at the weekend, take part 
>in amateur dramatics?

Cynical aside-the ones that come to mind immediately were denied tenure. 
But I'd like to hope many do and that one reinforces the other. 

 Sure, scientists have a lot of creativity, but it 
>is not a prerequisite for the job, hence so many scientists find other 
>outlets for their creative talents than at the workplace.

 It's just that saying "we're different" here doesn't carry much weight with
me.  Most average artists hold other jobs and create in their "spare" time. 
Most average scientists create in their "spare" time as well.

>Agreed about Alumni magazines.  What do these people get off on?  I got my 
>alma-mater's mag a while back and noticed an article about recent success 
>in the arena of popular music by some alumni. It fills my heart with a joy 
>so rapturous, to know that the guys who did no work and bummed around 
>drinking and jamming in the student union bar all day are now making it.  


And the purpose of alumni mags is to fill you with happy feelings about the
quality of your institution so you will send $.  That strikes me as a really
good jumping off point for letters to MIT from alums.  The pocketbook
speaks.

Julia Frugoli
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Clemson University
132 Long Hall
Clemson, SC 29634
phone: 864-656-1859
email: jfrugol at clemson.edu

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