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Release date: Nov. 6, 2001
Contact: Paula Haggard, Media Relations Coordinator, 404-727-0642, or

Emory University’s Great Teachers Lecture Series On Nov. 29 Addresses Links Between Science and Art

Mention astronomy, and most people think of the phases of the moon, the earth’s orbit and the limits of our solar system. But mention it to Emory physics professor Sidney Perkowitz and he thinks of what it can also tell us about Vincent Van Gogh’s famous "Starry Night" painting. This is just one of the many links between science and art that Perkowitz will discuss at the Great Teachers Lecture Series program entitled "Science and Art: Closer Than You Think" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 in Emory’s Miller-Ward Alumni House, 815 Houston Mill Rd. Free parking is available.

Perkowitz’s talk is not just for members of the science and art communities, however. "All that you need to know is that the stars are in the sky and that the human eye sees," says Perkowitz. "When I give this talk, it’s for the general public, not scientists." Time permitting, Perkowitz hopes to incorporate a variety of topics into his lecture, such as how the human eye sees and how the brain interprets what it sees, how pigments in paint can affect art, and how the technology of artificial light has influenced artists such as Edward Hopper, painter of the popular "Nighthawks" piece. Perkowitz will also incorporate the thoughts of scientists Albert Einstein and René Descartes, in his lecture that grows out of ideas in his first book, Empire of Light: A History of Discovery in Science and Art, which was published in 1998 by Joseph Henry Press.

Perkowitz is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics at Emory College. He has receeived numerous research grants and contracts from government and industry, and has conducted numerous consultantships. Perkowitz was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and is a member of the American Physical Society and the National Association of Science Writers. Last month, Perkowitz was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for "extensive research on condensed matter physics and for achievements that increase the public understanding and appreciation of science and its fusion with the arts."

Among the radio and television programs that have interviewed Perkowitz are the Derek McGinty Show on WAMU-FM (Washington, D.C.), Science Spots on WGKA-AM (Atlanta), Ripley’s Believe It Or Not on WTBS-TV, and Technology Week on CNN Headline News.

Perkowitz’s most recent book, Universal Foam: From Cappuccino to the Cosmos, was published by Walker & Co. in 2000.


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