Vincent Icke's presentation @ Taiga Space, May 30 2012.
It is not necessary to know what beauty is, if one wants to measure what people find beautiful. In 1883 Francis Galton, one of the founders of probability theory, investigated whether it was possible to read off the character traits of people from their faces. In an attempt to emphasize what certain faces have in common, Galton constructed some sort of "photographic average" of a number of human faces. He discovered that most respondents found such an "averaged portrait" more attractive than the individual portraits. In other words, people find the mean more beautiful than the extremes. Experiments of this type show that the human sense of beauty is extremely conservative. Of course there are sound biological reasons for this. But what does this imply for art? And more extremely, does this have any implications for science? Do people find common-or-garden science, such as botany or classical mechanics, more beautiful than extremes, such as quantum mechanics or molecular biology? And finally, does a sense of beauty help in the production of scientific insight?
Part of Dutch Wednesday, Dutch Institute in St.Petersburg, www.nispb.ru.
Listen to the audio: http://nispb.ru/files/dutchw/IckeArtAndScience300512.mp3