By Edward Belbruno, Princeton University
Edward Belbruno is a mathematician and an artist. His paintings are in major collections and exhibited throughout the United States, and he regularly consults with NASA from his position as a cosmology researcher at Princeton University. He is also author of “Fly Me to the Moon” (Princeton University Press, 2007). Belbruno contributed this article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Science often inspires artists to create new works of art. For example, the discovery of new worlds by the Kepler space telescope conjures up images in the mind of exotic unearthly landscapes. An artist can then paint possible landscapes that may exist and let his or her imagination run wild. One can think of many such examples — though inspiration from the other direction is not as obvious. When does art inspire science? Can a painting reveal a significant new scientific discovery?