Would Newton recognize his 2nd Law?
Abraham Tamir, Department of Chemical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.
Fax: +972-7-647-2916. E-mail: atamir@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

It was Cheng-Dau Lee, Nobel laureate in physics, who expressed the following idea about the close interaction between art & science. He said: "Both, science and art are the presentation of the creature of the human being. They are not separated from each other. There is even a similarity between them as they help us observe nature. With the help of science we can find out routines of nature. On the other hand, by means of art we can describe the emotions of nature."
In the Art & Science page to be presented in each issue of our journal, the above interaction will be demonstrated in the following way: art will be used as a means to illustrate science, and science will be shown as instrumental in creating art. In this way, visual form will be given to scientific ideas, or as I define it - "demonstrate science through the 'eye' of art".
The present art & science page demonstrates how art can be instrumental in demonstrating one of the most important Laws of nature - the Newton's 2nd Law of Motion. What is a law? A law is something already existing which merely lies hidden until the discoverer disclosed it. This explains why God gave the world the Ten Commandments 2448 years after the creation, but has been waiting 5403 years for Newton to discover his laws.
Sir Isaac Newton, 1643-1727, born in UK, a mathematician and physicist, one of the foremost scientific intellects of all time. He was a premature infant not expected to live who showed no particular promise in his early years. He had a very unhappy childhood, which explains why he showed signs all through his life of a persecution mania. Surprisingly, Newton was highly productive only for eighteen years, 1669-1687, while a breakdown at an age of 51 ended his scientific work. He then became a highly paid government official in London with little further interest in mathematical research. Newton never married, but was at his happiest in the role of patron to younger scientists while from 1703 he served as a tyrannical president of the Royal Society. He was knighted in 1705.
Newton's contributions to science included modern laws of optics, the development of calculus, the Newtonian telescope and his law of cooling. However, the most important discoveries were his three laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation which sufficed to regulate the cosmos, but only, as Newton believed, with the help of God. Legend has it that seeing an apple dropping from a tree gave Newton the idea that the same force that keeps us bound to the Earth also controls the motion of planets and stars. Newton's theories for determining the motion of bodies traveling at ordinary speeds created among scientists a peaceful and optimistic climate for about 250 years. However, when Einstein in 1905 proposed the theory of relativity-where mass, length and time were no more unchangeable magnitudes but depend on their speed, as an alternative to Newton's theory, the world was shocked!
Looking at Newton's equations F = ma and F = m1m2/r2 reveals how aesthetic they are. And indeed, many scientists expressed themselves about aesthetics in science (Rieser, 1972). Einstein said that "Beauty is the first test and threre is no place in the world for ugly mathematics" while according to Dirac "Beauty in equations is more important than their agreement with experiments."
We focus now our attention on Newton's 2nd Law. The law is demonstrated on the back cover of the journal for a body attracted solely by gravity force, namely, F = mg. However, a deeper analysis of each of the three pictures comprising the law is also very interesting, as follows.
Force F, a push or pull exerted on an object, is demonstrated by "Sisyphus" pushing a heavy boulder. It was painted by Franz von Stuck (1863-1928), born in Lower Bavaria and talented with a sensuous power to communicate through colors and forms and whose work was sometimes decorative and sometimes sculptural. The mythological figure of Sisyphus is one of the best well-known penitents of the underworld. The Gods' punishment for his hubris is the task of pushing a heavy boulder up a mountain down which it always rolls back after reaching the summit. Observing Sisyphus trying to push the boulder gives the beholder a strong impression that the boulder is hardly moving. In other words, the acceleration a = F/m approaches zero, since according to the visual demonstration the forcce F>0 as well mass m>>0.
Mass m, a measure of how much material is in an object, is demonstrated by Rafi Carasso in his astounding sculpture "Lady with Basket". Carasso is a doctor of medicine, a practicing psychologist and sculptor born in Israel in 1945. Although the upper part of the lady looks normal, it is hers lower part which gives the observer a strong sensation of a high mass. The standing lady demonstrates also Newton's third law where the force exerted by the lady on the floor is balanced by an identical force exerted on the sole of her foot by the floor.
And finally, the gravity acceleration g is beautifully demonstrated by Fernando Botero in his painting "Woman Falling from a Balcony". Botero, a painter and sculptor, was born in 1932 in Medellin, Columbia. Botero, one of today's preeminent artists, is marked by unique qualities and a distinct figurative style which includes a wide repertoire of themes such as self-portraits, nudes, lovers, bullfights, nuns, prostitutes and saints. Influenced by the monumental quality of the figures of Giotto, Ingres and Rivera, Botero strives to create sensuality through form. A closer examination of his picture brings to the conclusion that it represents Newton's 2nd law for free fall under force of gravity, i.e. a = g.
We return to the question posed in the title, would Newton recognize his 2nd Law by applying "science through the 'eye' of art"? The answer is, probably, yes, bearing in mind his fascinating taste for aesthetics, an important cornerstone of art, which is manifested in his beautiful equations, in addition to his genius brain.




Thanks for reproduction permission are due to Benedikt Taschen Verlag Publication - for "Sisyphus", Marlborough Gallery, New York - for "Woman Falling from a Balcony", and Professor Carasso for "Lady with Basket".
References
Rieser, D., "Art and Science", Van Nostrand Reinhold Publishing Company, New York, NY (1972).