Insisting that beauty is at the heart of science and technology is like ordering wine at lunch, or tacking ruffles to your office furniture -- it takes a serious proposition and makes it frilly and frivolous.

It ruins, also, the simpleminded classification we have lived by for a long time. We believe implicitly that the scientist is one type, the artist a radically different one. In fact, the scientific and artistic personalities overlap more than they differ, and the higher we shimmy into the leafy canopy of talent, the closer the two enterprises seem. The typical first-year physics text never uses the word beauty, but it is no accident that Richard Feynman's text -- the work of a great scientist and one of the century's great books -- uses it all the time.

David Gelernter,
from Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology
(Basic Books, 1998)


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From Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology, copyright © 1998 by David Gelernter. Published by Basic Books, a subsidiary of Perseus Books, L.L.C.