Symmetry & Aesthetics in Contemporary Physics


An experimental seminar to explore the connections between contemporary physics, math, and the arts

CCS 120
Fridays, 1:00 – 3:50 PM
CCS, Rm. 143

Instructor: Dr. Jatila van der Veen

Office: 2225 Broida Hall

About this course:

Symmetry, and the search for broken symmetries, guide our understanding of the Laws of Physics. Symmetry and asymmetry are also at the heart of our aesthetic experiences in music, dance, and art. In this interdisciplinary seminar we investigate contemporary views of spacetime and cosmology from the viewpoint of Symmetry. We utilize learning strategies from the arts to develop a deeper understanding of the reality which lies beyond our sensory perception, and which is described by mathematics.

Guest speakers have included artists and scientists who are working at the frontiers of their disciplines. The final project is to create a physics work of art which is presented in a public gallery showing, either in the College of Creative Studies or in the UCSB Library. See for example, .

This course was offered nine times through the College of Creative Studies, and funded by NASA. Unfortunately, the NASA funding has now ended, so the course is no longer being offered, but the last year’s materials are available for others to use. To access last year’s course materials, please see the 2016 Course Website .

Papers published about the results of this course with students include:

Book chapter pre-print

paper in Symmetry: Culture and Science

paper in the American Educational Research Journal

and Jatila’s complete dissertation

For questions, please contact Dr. Jatila van der Veen at jkvanderveen [at] ucsb [.] edu

This course was funded by the Planck Mission, JPL/NASA.