Sunday, August 5, 2012

Red Helen in science and art

Red Helen in flight
In a garden, the artist asks about a butterfly:
Entomologist: Papilion helenus.
Artist: And its common name?
Entomologist: Red Helen.
Artist: And who was Helen?
Entomologist: Helen was… Helen.
Artist: Means you don’t know.
Entomologist: Maybe. But I can tell you there are about a dozen subspecies. Swallowtailed. See, he flutters his forewings and the hindwings stay fairly still.
Artist: Helen is a male?
Entomologist: Helens are male and female.

Scientists like taxonomies. As taxonomists, they compare, contrast and categorize. That is how they view the world.
Artists focus on features. Writers seek stories. That is how they explain the world.
Great scientists can tell stories and great artists can suggest the underlying science. They are scientist and artist. Look at Linnaeus. Look at Leonardo. Both were both.



Anonymous said...

The photographer said to the Red Helen butterfly "I like to take a picture for you, can you pose?" What we see, is what we can learn. Human react well, it depends on their sensation. Both of Butterfly and photographer communicated well. That showed us this picture. A Red Helen Butterfly in a silence garden. Where it goes, leading us to a garden of paradise.

Barry Natusch said...

Actually, capturing a Red Helen in flight is not so easy. The Red Helen is not very cooperative, fluttering here, there and everywhere. Although you capture the image with a shutter speed of 1/4000 second, the difficulty is to keep the butterfly in focus while the foreground and background are "bokeh". The photographer may have muttered to the butterfly, "Stay still, HOVER," but the butterfly didn't listen.