Bryan Appleyard

Fascinating Algorithms

Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art


W W Norton 424pp £22 order from our bookshop

This book may be the only extant publication in which the word ‘electrifying’ and the name C P Snow appear in the same sentence. ‘Tweedy’ maybe, ‘donnish’ certainly, but ‘electrifying’ never.

In fairness, Arthur I Miller, a physicist and historian of science, is not referring to Snow the man but to his 1959 lecture ‘The Two Cultures’. Again, however, electrifying is hardly the word for a rather liverish complaint about how people in the humanities know nothing about science (and, sort of, vice versa). This became for a while ‘an issue’ and Snow’s analysis is still occasionally evoked to describe what is seen as a lamentable intellectual failing.

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