Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Different ways scientists and artists view a thing

Recently I was told about some "Geology based Art". 'Wonderful', I thought immediately after hearing about it and before viewing the art, 'How artists are contributing to understanding the world of science is really laudable'. Laudable? Only until I saw the actual art work. The moment I saw it my view changed!

Because I was expecting to see a work of art that makes science easy and more interesting. But all that I saw was an artist's point of view. Aesthetics and only beauty of Earth contours and nothing else! And how can this be 'a work of science based art'? How can it make people more informative? It just looked like a landscape painting! Geology? Forget it!

If only artists can see more than aesthetics and go beyond  the normal. Like how the minerals are contributing to various colours we encounter in the soils and rocks on Earth. How the chemical configurations and orientations are making things unique. You are treading upon years of geological and biological history when you are dealing with these things. When you ignore or leave more than two-thirds of the mystery, what is the point in doing such a story?

Modern microscope technology explores  how different environments shape grains of sand into nature's tiny works of art. These grains include shell fragments, a glassy sponge spicule, a green sea urchin spine,  a foraminiferan, microscopic shells and various minerals.

Mineral sands originate from the erosion of rock into tiny grains. When granite rock erodes by the forces of wind, rain, ice and multiple freeze-thaw cycles, the angular grains of feldspar, quartz, mica and other minerals are liberated. They are transported to lakes via streams, rivers and glaciers, and on their journey, their original crystal shapes begin become more rounded by the forces of erosion. Many continental beaches have a high percentage of quartz sand grains because quartz survives the forces of erosion longer than other minerals. The pounding surf is responsible for rounding and polishing the rugged quartz grains.

Biological sands tell the story of the living beings that inhabit along the shore lines.  Fragments of coral, tube worms, barnacles and sea urchin spines get washed up onto the beach, along with the amazing shells made of calcium minerals.

Green olivine, feldspar, quartz, mica , green epidote are some of the minerals you find.

mineral grains, microscope photography, sand
  Mineral sands originate from the erosion of rock into tiny grains. Minerals here include pink quartz and green epidote.
Credit: Gary Greenberg
Dryhead agate, nikon small world photo

Dryhead agate found in Montana is prized for its richly colored bands. Credit: Douglas Moore

Modern spectral analyses tell us what chemicals the geological formations are made of. These scientific tools  are Nature's story tellers. Don't ignore them.

Undoubtedly artists and scientists see things differently. But science artists should be able to go to the level of people of science when they want to tread the paths of science. Don't you agree?

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Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on October 29, 2015 at 6:34am




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