Colour Spectral Counterpoints. Case Study on Aestetic Judgement in the Experimental Sciences

In Ingo Nussbaumer & Galerie Hubert Winter (eds.), Restraint versus Intervention: Painting as Alignment. Verlag für moderne Kunst (2009)

Authors
Olaf L. Müller
Humboldt-University, Berlin
Abstract
When it became uncool to speak of beauty with respect to pieces of art, physicists started claiming that their results are beautiful. They say, for example, that a theory's beauty speaks in favour of its truth, and that they strive to perform beautiful experiments. What does that mean? The notion cannot be defined. (It cannot be defined in the arts either). Therefore, I elucidate it with examples of optical experimentation. Desaguliers' white synthesis, for example, is more beautiful than Newton's, and the many colourful syntheses done by Viennese painter Ingo Nussbaumer exemplify even greater beauty. Here are some criteria (which, of course, do not implement a decision procedure concerning beauty in experiments): cleanliness, simplicity, intellectual clarity, symmetry. Similar criteria are relevant to our aesthetical judgements about some pieces of music. So we can assume that our notion of beauty conserning art is related to the one conserning scientific experiments.
Keywords Beauty  Aesthetics  Experiment  Optics   Light  Color  Heterogeneity of Light  Colour Synthesis  Johann Wolfgang GOETHE   Isaac NEWTON
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