NPR logo 'The Hidden Code': An Embrace Of Art And Science

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'The Hidden Code': An Embrace Of Art And Science

Illustration of the heart of Orion.
iStockphoto
Illustration of the heart of Orion.
iStockphoto

On Thursday, the Boston Museum of Science will premiere The Hidden Code at the Charles Hayden Planetarium, a multimedia piece by Paul Miller (aka D J Spooky). The piece combines music, stunning visual effects and live readings to bring science to the general public in ways that only a few years ago would be unthinkable.

A video preview can be seen here, while the full audio content can be retrieved for free from this link. The text is from my book A Tear at the Edge of Creation. (Full disclosure: I narrate part of the project, reading from my book.)

The piece was commissioned by the William H. Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College, as part of a broader initiative to inspire more cross-disciplinary reaching between the sciences and the arts.

Scientists, artists, museum curators and digital technology experts are inventing a new language for science popularization that should be part of every school curriculum, public and private. It's the dawn of the "science as awe" era, where it's not just about telling people what atoms, black holes or genes are, but about integrating the scientific narrative into a broader context — where science becomes part of a grander theme, our search for meaning in a mysterious universe that never ceases to amaze and surprise us.

The Hidden Code was a collaborative work between D J Spooky and several Dartmouth professors from different disciplines, from cognitive neuroscience and biology to astrophysics. It attempts to immerse the viewer in a multi-sensorial "science experience" where music, text and visuals projected onto the planetarium dome create a sort of virtual reality evoking a journey through the cosmos.

It's not quite the same as traveling through the wormhole in the movie Interstellar, but it's as close as we can get from the safely of our imagination.


Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist — and professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He is the co-founder of 13.7, a prolific author of papers and essays, and active promoter of science to the general public. His latest book is The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning. You can keep up with Marcelo on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser.