Renaissance Chemist: Appreciating the Differences: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Feb 13, 2001
Scientist: Roald Hoffmann

Renaissance Chemist: Appreciating the Differences

Renaissance Chemist: Appreciating the Differences
Both scientists and artists seek better understanding of the world. The difference lies in the questions they ask and the answers they find.


As a supremely gifted artist and visionary inventor of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci is still celebrated for his mastery of art, technology and science. Well in our age of specialization, the spirit of the Renaissance Man lives on. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by Dupont.

"In my country, if you wake, snatched from the dream half-done, you ring the alarm -- there's a pull by every bed in my country -- and soon, their cars flashing green in the night, friends come. For they know I would do it for them. Come to help re-enter the dream."

That's Roald Hoffmann reading from his poem, "Dream Corps". He has also written books, essays and co-authored a play premiering later this year. But Roald Hoffmann is also a Nobel prize-winning chemist who says that the arts and sciences are not as different as we sometimes think.

"Here's what I see that they have in common. First, they are creations of human beings. A new chemical is just as much a creation as a new poem or a piece of music. Second, they are acts that are accomplished with craftsmanship. Third thing is in both, the thing that you have to say to people is done with intensity, with a concentration, Both science and art are acts of communication. They are also things that somehow combine selfishness and altruism. You want people to know that you've created something good, but you also want to share it with other people. And finally they're both reaching for beauty in some way. That's interesting because in scientific articles, you're not allowed to talk about beauty. But if you look underneath at what motivates scientists it's often ideas of beauty."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by Dupont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.