When Einstein Met le Corbusier – What Went Wrong?

What is it about physics that so intimidates? Or is it just Einstein?

Le Corbusier recalled his visit to Princeton in 1946 to meet the Nobel laureate:

I expressed myself badly, I explained the “Modulor” badly, I got bogged down in the morass of ‘cause and effect’… At one point, Einstein took a pencil and began to calculate. Stupidly, I interrupted him, the conversation turned to other things…

Why was one of the most brilliant architects of the 20th century, who believed his architecture could change the world, so flustered?  May be he was trying to be a scientist.

CERN,   home of the Large  Hadron Collider (LHC), is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.  With its concentration of   brilliant scientific minds, it is looking to get into art. They have instituted an artist residency program, Arts @ CERN:

…explores elements even more elusive than the Higgs boson – human ingenuity, creativity and imagination. It is CERN’s new experiment in arts and science: a 3-year artists’ residency programme initiated by the laboratory. [My italics]

The three year old residency project is open to artists from all disciplines for up to three months in the laboratory. It encourages close contact between the artists and the scientists so they inspire each other – to a point – just for three months. Why?

The director of the program,  Ariane Koek explained:

there’s a tipping point where artists want to prove that they have the brains of the physicist, and the minute they do that they start to lose their artistic creativity.

Was le Corbusier suffering from that same ‘tipping point’? Are science and art incompatible?

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