American scientist Richard Feynman, who The New York Times called "arguably the most brilliant, iconoclastic and influential of the postwar generation of theoretical physicists" upon his death in 1988, is known for the invention of diagrams to depict particle behavior as well as his involvement with the creation of the atom bomb. However, back in 1981 he offered a bit more digestible nugget of knowledge in an interview with the BBC, when he explained the magic, mystery, and excitement that science offers. The monologue is known as "Ode to the Flower," and now animator Fraser Davidson has created a sublime short video to accompany Feynman's decades-old audio track, which is reproduced below.
I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I’ll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe…
I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.
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