Tag Archives: humanities

Poetry and Science – A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (review)

Some time ago now, I raved about Caribou Run: a book of poetry about – no, not about, but heavily referencing – science*.  Ever since I’ve meant to write about another book of poetry that crossed my path around the same time: Madhur Anand’s A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes.  The books are totally unalike, except for two things: the way they explore connections between poetry and science (including scientific writing, a pet interest of mine), and the fact that I enjoyed each very much.

Caribou Run is the work of a poet fascinated by science.  A New Index is the work of a scientist who is also a poet.  The fact that I can’t decide whether this contrast makes a difference seems like good evidence that the boundary between the arts and science is porous from both sides. Continue reading

“Two cultures” and the talk that terrified me

I’ve mentioned in two recent posts that I don’t get nervous any more when I get up to give a talk. This is partly just age and experience, but more importantly, it’s because I figured out something unsurprising but important: that when I give a talk about my work, I know more about the subject than anybody else in the room.

I did admit, though, to a recent exception: a talk I was terrified to give. I think it’s the exception that proves my know-more-than-anybody-else rule*, and it taught me something I didn’t know about potential relationships between academics in the sciences and the humanities. It happened because I did the (to me) unthinkable: I gave the departmental seminar in my university’s Department of English. Continue reading