2008 – Creativity and creative inspiration in mathematics, science, and engineering

 

richard_feynman An international Symposium organized in collaboration with the Templeton Foundation and in connection with the XXIX edition of Meeting for Friendship Amongst Peoples

August 29-31, 2008 – University of San Marino, Ancient Monastery of Santa Chiara

Good science is universal, true and verifiable for every culture, belief or psychological state. In science, subjectivity seems to be stripped away from scientists’ work. The personal lives of those carrying out scientific research seem irrelevant because they are set aside in the process and appear to leave no trace in their results.

On the other hand, there is little doubt that most great scientists perceive their work as a deeply creative and personal pursuit, springing from their specific personal, historical, and cultural religious backgrounds. Science is undeniably part of a human adventure involving affective energy, aesthetics and personal belief. “The emotional state which enables such [scientific] achievements is similar to that of the religious person or the person in love; the daily pursuit does not originate form a design or program but from a direct need.” (Albert Einstein)

What makes science a “human” activity? What is creativity in physical sciences and in mathematics? Are scientists alienated by lack of vision and by reductive de-humanizing and/or arrogant science? Can the culture of scientific work be transformed to encourage deeper understandings of human creativity, purpose, and meaning of destiny?

Science has a major impact on education, and vice versa. By education we mean not only the transfer of notions, instructions and tools to the young, but the development of his/her full personality, which includes rationality, affection, creativity and freedom. What is the contribution that scientific disciplines can offer to the education of the human person as a whole? What are the limits and dangers of scientistic/reductionistic and utilitarian approaches to education?

Conversely, there is a specific component of education in view of the formation of young creative and successful scientists. Few people would object to the idea that genius scientists were born with innate or natural talents. However, education does play a vital role. “Education” includes not only schools and universities, but also one’s personal environment, encounters with single persons, and involvement with particular groups. What are the key requirements and outstanding examples of successful scientific education

Finally, science-through schools and the media-plays a decisive role in the formation of people’s mental attitudes. The way in which scientific discoveries are presented (particularly when touching frontier topics in cosmology, the origin and evolution of life, and the nature of human beings) has a profound effect on the perception of science itself, the relationship between man and nature, and the relationship between physical and metaphysical realities. What is the impact of present cutting-edge science on our vision of the world? The cultural and technological implications of scientific discoveries are huge, but normally they lay beyond the control of the scientist making the discovery. What is the role of science protagonists in the way scientific discoveries are presented to the public?

Convener:
Charles L. Harper, John Templeton Foundation Vice President

Participants:
Tommaso Bellini, Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Medical Biotechnology, University of Milano, Italy
Tibor Frank,
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
Owen Gingerich
,
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge,USA
Rogers Hollingsworth
, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA
Richard Lindzen, Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
Dan Maoz,
School of Physics and Astronomy, Tel-Aviv University, IsraelAlan
Macfarlane
, King’s College, Cambridge, UK
Andrea Moro, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy
Gino Segre,
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Constantino Tsallis
,
Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Fisicas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
John Wood
, Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London, UK

Co-Chairs:
Marco Bersanelli, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics Department, University of Milano
John Wood, Principal of the Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College

Scientific Committee:
T.Bellini, M.Bersanelli, C.Harper, G.Petroni, E.Sindoni

Organizing Committee:
M.Aluigi, T.Ceccoli, H.Choi, D.Pifferetti, N.Sabatini

 

Invited closed-doors symposium, restricted to participants.

The proceedings are published on Euresis Journal

 

Photos (Courtesy of Franco Bottoni)

Editorial (by Giorgio Dieci)

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