Thursday, November 18, 2010

Discovery and Creativity at Hotel Marlowe

What is creativity? Are there different kinds of creativity for science and for music? do they overlap? What is the link between artistic and scientific discovery?

n Wednesday evening November 17, Longwood Symphony Orchestra and Hotel Marlowe held the first of a three-part series on Discovery and Creativity in the hotel's cozy library.

A string quartet of musician scientists from Longwood Symphony Orchestra were joined by Nobel laureate and MIT professor Dr. Richard Schrock for a thought-provoking fireside chat on creativity. They were:

Psyche Loui, Ph.D. Music and Neuroimaging Lab, BIDMC (violin)
Christopher Richards, Ph.D. Propulsion Physiology Lab, Rowland Institute (violin)
Michael Cho, M.D., MPH, Brigham and Womens Hospital (viola)
Heidi Greulich, Ph.D. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Broad Institute (cello)

The evening opened with a movement of Mozart's Quartet in G major. Then each musician spoke about his/her scientific work, from cancer biology to clinical research on chronic obstructive lung disease to animal movemnt to the neuroscience of music.

Dr. Richard Schrock received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005 " for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis." A professor at MIT, Dr. Schrock recalled his experience as a young scientist at the age of 8, when he received his very first chemistry set. "Even then," he said, "I remember enjoying seeing how I could combine chemicals to create new reactions...and I liked to blow things up!" While Schrock had little memory of his two years playing trumpet and tuba, he later developed a great love of music and a fascination of its structure, complexity and beauty.

A conversation ensued among the scientists comparing the study of music to the study of science, and comparing the composition of music to the development of a hypothesis based scientific experiment. They observed that both science and music require a high degree of discipline, attention to detail and a basic skill level as a baseline--but that creativity comes when one takes a risk and challenges expectations.

The evening concluded with a more Mozart by the quartet and wine and hors d'oeuvres, provided by Hotel Marlowe, but many felt the conversation on creativity had just begun.

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