By Ede, Siân
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Extra resources for Art and science
Keats’ response to the urn is an expression of bitter irony. In what is now recognised as the Romantic period, from around 1780 to 1830, artists and poets saw it as their role to move the emotions in order to rouse the viewer to deeper contemplation. But the idea that passionate arousal was not only necessary but a healthy form of self-expression is relatively recent. Right up until the nineteenth century, the predominant view 32 Art and Science in western art derived from classical times was that a form of beauty that provoked the emotions too much should be tempered with cool reason and the decorum of form.
Essentially the behaviour of phenomena at the quantum scale becomes a matter of Probability. Contemporary physics, far from being a bedrock of implacable laws and measurable function, seems to be dealing with unpredictable events 24 Art and Science that sound as if they verge on the magical. Indeed, as physicists will sometimes wearily attest, more than a normal share of oddball mystics beat a path to their doors, hoping to ﬁnd evidence at last that the universe itself is not only paranormal but psychic.
If we understand death, they seem to imply, we may one day be able to master it. A contemporary equivalent is the image made with a stateof-the-art digital deconvolution microscope by Dr Paul Andrews, biologist at the University of Dundee, which was among the winners of the 2002 Nikon International Small World Competition. It shows a luminous abstract shape, its purple shades contrasting with the jellyﬁsh green of the ﬂuorescent protein GFP and it is a cancer cell caught in the act of division.