Science and Creativity from Studio 360: the art of innovation. A sculpture unlocks a secret of cell structure, a tornado forms in a can, and a child's toy gets sent into orbit. Exploring science as a creative act since 2005. Produced by PRI and WNYC, and supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Recently in Science and Creativity

Phonautogram

Friday, January 06, 2012

Did you know there are audio recordings that predate Thomas Edison's phonograph by almost 20 years? The phonautogram was invented by a Frenchman named Eduoard Leon-Scott and patented in 1857, translating sound waves (shakily) onto sheets of paper. But for the last century ...

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Smart Programs Read Shakespeare

Friday, December 16, 2011

Patrick Winston is Principal Investigator at MIT's Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. He believes that creating better artificial intelligence is not a matter of more powerful processing: we have to teach computers how to think more like humans. “We are a symbolic species,” he ...

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Eve Sussman's Algorithmic Noir

Friday, December 16, 2011

A new film premiered this year that is truly one of a kind. whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir was made by Eve Sussman and her collaborators, known as the Rufus Corporation.  They shot most of the footage in Kazakhstan, improvising the script and taking advantage of the Soviet Union’s ...

Video: watch the trailer

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Lisa Randall: Knocking on Heaven's Door

Friday, December 16, 2011

Harvard physicist Lisa Randall is at the forefront of the search for new theories about how the universe works.  She’s especially interested in dark matter and is involved in work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.  And although her work requires complex math and work on the theoretical ...

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Robopainter

Friday, December 16, 2011

AARON is the world’s first cybernetic artist: an artificially intelligent system that composes its own paintings. Incredibly, the system is the work of one man, Harold Cohen, who had no background in computing when he began the effort. Cohen was a prominent painter; he represented ...

Quiz: Was this art made by a human or a computer?

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DARCI: A Computer With Great Taste

Friday, December 16, 2011

To make art, a computer first needs to understand what art is. A group of computer scientists at Brigham Young University is attempting this by feeding their program images by the thousands and describing those images. Digital Artist Communicating Intent (she goes by DARCI) recognizes ...

Slideshow: DARCI evaluates art

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The Carsten Höller Experience

Friday, December 09, 2011

Don’t stand too close, hands away from the art, don’t talk too loud — you know the etiquette. But right now at the New Museum in New York there's a huge exhibition that breaks all those rules. There are pieces you can climb on, ride on, stick your head into, smell. Even swallow. Carsten Höller  ...

Slideshow: Carston Höller at the New Museum

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Aha Moment: From Proto-Punk to Perception

Friday, November 18, 2011

Larry Rosenblum is a professor of psychology with a focus on perception — he’s written a book about the senses called See What I’m Saying. Rosenblum credits a musical revelation with leading him down that path. Growing up with 1970s prog-rock, he thought that virtuosity and spectacular showmanship were the hallmarks ...

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Greg Stock: Redesigning Humans

Friday, November 04, 2011

Nearly a decade after the human genome was decoded, scientists are only now beginning to understand its implications. One of the leading thinkers in this field is the biotech entrepreneur Gregory Stock. A biophysicist by training, his 2002 book Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future ...

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Neil Harbisson, Cyborg

Friday, November 04, 2011

Neil Harbisson is a painter, a musician, and a cyborg. Born with a rare form of colorblindness, Harbisson can only see the world in grays. In 2004, he collaborated with a scientist to create a device called the Eyeborg, which he wears everywhere — even in his passport picture ...

Video: Neil Harbisson's Sonochromatic Portrait #1

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They’re Made Out of Meat

Friday, November 04, 2011

We humans are pretty hot stuff — the most highly evolved species on the planet, or so we like to think. This parable by science-fiction writer Terry Bisson suggests otherwise. To some space aliens who think they’ve seen it all, we’re not just primitive. We’re gross. Terry Bisson’s “They’re Made Out of Meat” was first published in ...

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The Posthuman Future

Friday, November 04, 2011

Everything we’re able to do today to enhance humans — from genetic engineering to artificial limbs — simply improves on the base model we were born with. But for some people, that doesn’t go far enough. They think we shouldn’t be stuck with the factory-installed settings in our DNA. And they're not satisfied with a lifespan ...

Slideshow: Transhumanist Art

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Greg Stock: Humans 2.0

Friday, November 04, 2011

Biotech entrepreneur Greg Stock tells Kurt Andersen he thinks technology may allow humans to break free of their natural life span. “We are like a dying animal,” he says, “we are stuck to our bodies and yet our minds can soar.” Stock believes therapeutic interventions to treat diseases ...

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Becoming the Bionic Man

Friday, November 04, 2011

Hugh Herr is a leading bionics developer at MIT and a double amputee following a mountain-climbing accident. Herr has developed legs that allow him to climb better than he could previously. With a generation of young injured veterans needing prostheses, the need to build mechanical ...

Video: iWalk PowerFoot Gait Animation

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Making Memories with a Microchip

Friday, November 04, 2011

Ted Berger is trying to build a microchip that can remember things for us. He teaches biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, and his goal is to create a device that can take over for the hippocampus of the brain, translating thoughts into long-term memories. ...

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Science Tattoos

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tattoos are the defining fashion statement of the present generation. A few years ago, the writer Carl Zimmer was at a pool party and found that a young scientist friend of his, a neurobiologist, had a double helix printed on his back — a little strand of DNA. Zimmer blogged about it, and before he knew it, dozens of scientists ...

Slideshow: Tats from Science Ink

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Understanding Creative Savants

Friday, October 14, 2011

We all know the Thomas Edison line: genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. But there are those who don't seem to perspire at all. Their extraordinary gifts seem to come from no where. We often call those people savants. And some neuroscientists are trying to understand where their talents come from ...

Slideshow: Art by Joel Gilb, Age 12

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Imagine Science Film Festival

Friday, October 07, 2011

The fourth Imagine Science Film Festival (ISFF) will be held in New York City October 14-21. Venues in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens will host 80 films from 15 countries. They are diverse in style and subject, but the selection committee clearly placed a high value on striking visuals. The films may not have been created for wide commercial distribution, but ...

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2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics Teaches About Music

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Saul Perlmutter, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics, teaches "Physics and Music" at UC Berkeley. From his course description: "The mysteries of music have long inspired scientists to invent new tools of thought, and some of the earliest scientific concepts were invented to understand music. ... Questions as simple as "Why do different instruments ...

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Seeing Stats: The Art of Data Visualization

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Many scientists have no trouble conjuring rich images in their heads just from scanning columns of data. For the rest of us, it's essential to turn that data into something we can relate to more easily. This is where the designers of scientific visualizations come in. Using models enriched with colors and contours ...

Video: Earthquake simulation

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