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Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light Paperback – February 27, 2007


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Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light + The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image (Compass) + Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061227978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061227974
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leonard Shlain is Chairman of Laparoscopic Surgery at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and is Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image and Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution. Dr. Shlain lectures internationally and has been featured on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and NPR. He lives in Mill Valley, California.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Hazel on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A different and thought provoking book relating artists insights to discoveries in physics.Fascinating reading.I definitely recommend this book. I find I have to read it first thing in the morning when I am able to concentrate. It is not for a relaxed read!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Joan E. Aitken on May 6, 2008
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This book seeks to provide connections about art and science. I would have liked more visual illustrations, but anyone who seeks to understand the patterns of this world will find the ideas interesting.

Academic disciplines have become segregated in our individual disciplines, so this kind of synthesis is unique.

I bought this book because it was recommended by one of my graduate students. The book was a gift for an engineer who enjoys art and design.
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56 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Fredo Durand on December 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
Leonard Shlain is a surgeon, not an art historian neither a physicist. His culture is impressively broad, but unfortunately shallow. His main thesis in this book is that basically all scientific discoveries were anticipated by artists. I find the interwoven relationship between art and science absolutely fascinating, but this book is not a reference that I would recommand on the topic.

The main problem is that this book abuses of the juxtaposition of unrelated facts, and presents them with such virtuosity that a magical causality seem to appear. Shlain presents ancient thoughts with the enlightenment of modern frameworks, subtly rewriting them, emphasizing concept and translating them such that they seem to fit with forthcoming theories.

This kind of pitfall has been described by Kuhn (the structure of scientific revolution). For example, if Newtonian mechanics can be expressed in the framework of relativity, relativity is NOT and extension of Newtonian physics, there is a fundamental revolution between them. It is only because Newtonian physics has been rewritten that it becomes more compatible with Einstein's new insights.

Moreover, Shlain's understanding of relativity is weak at best. For example, he often makes the confusion between the effect of the finite speed of light (which can be expressed in a Newtonian context) and relativity.

I was all the more disappointed that some of the issues are actually relevant and fascinating: relativity, non Euclidean, surrealism and cubism for example do share a common revolution of the notion of space (and thus of the place of humans in the world).
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Karen Reisdorf on June 14, 2007
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I thought this was a wonderful book. Tying the evolution of art to the evolution of thinking and science gave me a more holistic way to look at art. From the ancient Greeks through the Dark and Middle Ages, the Impressionists, and into modern times the parallels of physics to art are simply amazing. Perfect for us "left-brained" types.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Fitzer on May 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book, which I read the first time many years ago, helped me to see the way history is really the creative human experience, whether it is art, science, mathematics, or language, and changed the way I see the world. I realized that our collective history is way more complex and interwoven than any of us can comprehend. Add that to the science of how matter, space and time behave in our universe and now it opens our eyes to the possibility that we are just one variable in the equation. I began teaching art and art history differently from that point forward, introducing my students to the concept that art was both the reflection and the presupposition of what human creativity and intellect could conceive and that art could not be truly understood without understanding the other factors in our shared technological, social, and scientific culture. I recommend this book to anyone who teaches art, science, or just wants to be rocked to the very core of their preconceptions of life.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Knapp on November 7, 2009
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As a musician and life long educator in a school of the arts here in Pittsburgh, I am inspired by Mr. Schlain's vast insight into the relationship of creativity, science, and the human spirit. I believe this work should be a fundamental guide for educators who believe in the power of art as it historically has influenced culture and science. BRAVO Mr. Schlain!
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