Pre-Ramble: The journey begins with the juxtaposition of random information / news / stories / concepts ...
Point one: WSJ book review on "Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology" (2014) by Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili, a molecular geneticist and quantum physicist who blend their respective areas of expertise to explain everyday dynamics around stuff like photosynthesis and animal migration. Fascinating finding: that birds use a special sensing mechanism involving quantum effects to detect and follow the forces of magnetic fields as they navigate their annual migration route.
(Visual thinker/bird lover in me wonders how the concept of birds migrating along quantum force fields could be captured and communicated in a visual representation. Logic model? Infographic? ... Abstract art?)
Point two: Google "art and science" - Wired magazine article on a physicist, a mathematician and an art historian who analyze Jackson Pollack's splatter-drip work and find that "he was taking advantage of the physical principles of fluid dynamics years before physicists themselves were studying the field."
"He did it intuitively ... His interest was not so much the physics of the process, it was to achieve a certain aesthetic effect ... But, the two are bound together - you can't separate them."
Point three: Photo series by Spanish photographer Alejandro Guijarro of blackboard scribbles from physics labs at prestigious research institutions including Oxford, Stanford and CERN. An exhibition of the series (Momentum, 2012), captures a visual representation of the physicist's thought process and "provides a natural [organic] explanation of quantum mechanics."
The artist describes the underpinnings of his work,
"Every layer of chalk, every erased theorem, every scrape and scratch, represents another attempt to pinpoint a single fact in a chaotic universe ... They are fragmented pieces of ideas, thoughts, or explanations from which arises a level of randomness ... arbitrary mementos in the restless life of an object in constant motion."
Like quantum theory itself.
Point four: Abstract artist Cy Twombly and his intricate, muted scribblings on chalkboard-like canvas; Ohne Titel (1986) shown below:
British art critic Philip Hensher talks about Twombly's work for Intelligent Life magazine before a 2008 retrospective exhibit at the Tate,
"The image of chalk on a blackboard drew Twombly ... at the moment where knowledge and fantasy meet. His white-on-black paintings have the air of pedagogy let off the leash ... Their meaning and even their mood are not easily readable ... [they express] a characteristic pleasure in the recorded gestures of the body, and a love of academic imagery running riot. Twombly's work is the recovered dreams of a history professor ... the loose, hypnotic blackboard scribbles which are made before thinking is embarked upon, or perhaps after."
The Take-Away: Fascinating that the scientist and the artist use the same dynamic forces to explore and express thinking in their respective realms. The scribbling notations of the physicist are the expression of the dynamics of scientific thought; Twombly's scribbly gesture marks are the expression of the dynamics of creative, artistic thought. Both forms of thinking seem to incorporate the duality of "quantum effects" ... flickering back and forth between imagined and known ... between the alternate states of "what if" and "what is" ... Both are forms of what might be characterized as "quantum thinking."
Is all thinking "quantum thinking"?