Loving and Thinking about Music, Mathematics, and Robert Schumann

Wednesday 12 June 2019, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Tom McLeish, Professor of Natural Philosophy, University of York

I will summarise the journey through, and open questions from, the recent project on creativity in science and its comparison to the creative process within arts, for the book The Poetry and Music of Science (OUP 2019). The focus will be on the chapter that tests the claim that mathematics and music are ‘naturally’ or at least metaphorically linked (e.g. George Steiner). Since choice of examples for comparative study of creativity is free, we might as well indulge ourselves with the fluctuation-dissipation theorem and Schumann's Konzertstück for four horns and orchestra.

Tom McLeish, FRS, is Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics at the University of York, England, and is also affiliated to the University’s Centre for Medieval Studies and Humanities Research Centre. His scientific research in ‘soft matter and biological physics,’ draws on collaboration with chemists, engineers, and biologists to study relationships between molecular structure and emergent material properties, and was recognized by major awards in the USA and Europe. He currently leads the UK ‘Physics of Life’ network, and holds a 5-year personal research fellowship focusing on the physics of protein signaling and the self-assembly of silk fibres.

Other academic interests include the framing of science, theology, society and history, and the theory of creativity in art and science, leading to the recent book The Poetry and Music of Science (OUP 2019). He co-leads the Ordered Universe project, a large interdisciplinary collaboration re-examining scientific treatises from the 13th century. He has also contributed to the philosophy of emergence (including the recent Routledge Handbook of Emergence 2019), and is embarking on a research project in cross-curricular education with colleagues in education at York.

Two recent books, Faith and Wisdom in Science (2014) and Let There Be Science (with David Hutchings, 2017), articulate a theological narrative for science, and support his work co-leading (with Revd. Prof. David Wilkinson, Durham) the major project Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science). This work was recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lanfranc Award in 2018. Dr. McLeish has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993, in the dioceses of Ripon and York. From 2008 to 2014 he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University and is currently Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee, and a trustee of the John Templeton Foundation.

Location: Sally Baldwin D Block | D003