Why scientific researchers are really just artists

Science and art seem so divided until we really take a look at what the subjects are made for: creation.  Creation of a new vaccine, creation of a new painting–either way, both make something new.  Really, scientists are just artists who use the laws of nature as the canvas.  I’ve heard a lot of scientists say that they aren’t good at art.  But, really, when you’re a professional researcher at a university, you and the artist in the next building over are using the same techniques to make a living.  Here’re some of the reasons why scientific researchers are actually naturalistic artists:

  • Be unique and focus on something

From my observations, researchers really benefit from having research that stands out in some way.  This summer, I worked in a lab that specialized in the biomedical applications of a special type of foam.  That was what was something special about their lab: they were finding out all these new things about this one material, and they focused on it.  Artists do the same thing; whether it’s landscape photography or cartoon drawings of Bichons, finding your place in the community you work in is a big part of both fields.

  • Expanding on something no one else has done before

Originality.  Researchers need it to publish papers, and artists need it to publish pieces.  If what you have is something somebody’s already seen, it isn’t of too much value.  Think of it like this: people are usually most excited to see a movie they haven’t seen it yet.  It’s harder to get you someone to the movies again if they already know how the story goes (I mean, unless it was a really good story).

  • Extensive training

Both artists and scientists spend insane amounts of time perfecting their crafts.  For a writer, it might be perfecting the prose.  For a scientist, it might be a PhD.  No expert in either field just picked up the subject overnight.  Chances are, they’ve been working on it for at least half of a decade.

  • Niche value

Honestly, is strange as this is, even if you’re the best at what you do, not everyone will see how much your work contributes to the world.  For instance, take Shakespeare: the master of the complex, highly open-ended plot and poetic, rhythmic prose.  He’s arguably one of the best writers ever (besides Michael Crichton, of course), but only a handful of people really appreciate his work.  My point is this: both researchers and artists have a specific audience that their work targets.  Astrobiological researchers are probably looking to publish in a field that’ll really listen to what they’re saying.  Similarly, not everyone liked the Twilight books.  In both fields, you have to find someone who actually wants to pay attention to what you’re doing.



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