Art for Science Sake

Two books long overdue for review here, have a more than nanoscopic layer of dust on their covers having sat atop of a pile of other books long overdue for review here that has grown systematically to more than a metre in height. Not the most poetic of intros to a review of scientific poetry but then I haven’t got all day to wax too lyrical.

Art Stewart reckons communication problems are significant obstacles to science but rather than encouraging a stripping away of jargon Stewart suggests science can benefit from a little of that old lyrical wax and perhaps more of an acceptance not to worry about spending more than a little time on matters that seem at first superficial. As such, he’s put together two rather subtly evocative books of poetry and essays that turn the concept of the all-too-common science for poets course on its head and offer up the idea of poetry class for scientists instead.

Superstring theory, katydids at night, natural disaster, and ammonites all succumb to Stewart’s muse in Rough Ascension while respect and care for life are the focus of the second of the pair Bushido – The Virtues of Rei and Makoto. Neither book is much thicker than the layer of dust that accumulated on their covers while I found the time to take a closer look but what they lack in thickness they make up for in depth.

A version of this item is available in our podcast complete with guest appearance by Art Stewart himself with a reading of Superstring Theory. Use the built-in player below to listen, save the mp3 to your hard disk or mp3 player, or subscribe for free with iTunes.