Creativity in science and arts

Avi Loeb writes:

Arts and sciences have different content and hence adopt different tools to shape their message. They constitute complementary ways of viewing reality which are not a substitute for each other. Scientific innovation translates to new technological devices, like global positioning systems for navigation based on Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Artistic innovation translates to new cultural assets, like Pablo Picasso’s Cubism—which sparked related movements in music, literature and architecture. The products of the creative process are surprising at first in all venues of human inventiveness.

Recognizing the crucial role that imagination plays in advancing both arts and sciences would translate to a culture that fosters innovation by rewarding creativity. Conventional groupthink could be circumvented by populating selection committees of funding agencies with creative individuals rather than with traditional thinkers. A culture of innovation would also benefit from overlap spaces where scientists and artists interact. In deriving his theory of gravity Albert Einstein was inspired by the philosopher Ernst Mach, and Einstein’s new notions of space and time inspired Picasso’s paintings.

This is a beautiful extrapolation. The reason I find it fascinating is that it encourages the creative aspect to “routine”. The famous parable of an Apple falling on Newton’s head or Archimedes’ “eureka” moments comes to the fore.

I have always held humanities should be an essential part of medical teaching. Anthropology, especially, turns the mirrors inwards to explain to us about the essence of what it means to be a social animal and understand the crux of socio-cultural debates. Likewise, when I read up about well-meaning individuals attempting to tackle “global challenges”, I doubt if they idea about the felt needs of the community. This appreciation of empathy translates into several other aspects – for example, defining the policy goals for Ai in healthcare. Instead of hamming a familiar chorus around “inclusion and diversity” (which comes from flawed historical data), we need to have inclusive policies instead, because these issues affect as a “common-whole”.

Creativity is tough. In the always “distraction-filled” environment, especially with a stream of emails and social media, it is difficult to achieve a state of mindfulness. I compulsorily allot specific time slots daily to achieve that, with strict instructions to my staff to handle everything for a period of ten minutes.

Try it. It will help you to be more creative.