How is science applied to poetry, and how is poetry applied to science?

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Science is applied to poetry when poets utilize acute observation and scientific terminology in their poems, and poetry is applied to science when scientists use poetic devices to explain complex concepts. Science and poetry are related in that both focus on truth and understanding how the world works. 

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Poetry and science are both concerned with accuracy and order. Both strive to tell truth, and both work to understand and describe how the universe—either inside our minds or outside of them—operates.

The best poets and the best scientists acutely observe the natural world and attempt to see it in all its detail. They describe to us details we might otherwise have missed. Both the poet and the scientist can, for example, help us to see a bird like the nightingale in a new way.

Science is applied to poetry when poets use scientific terminology in their poetry in the interests of accuracy. Rather than be vague, a poet might describe a period of the past as, for example, the Mesozoic era, so that we know he or she is speaking of the dinosaur age. Some poets help explain science through their poems, such as Susan Blackaby in "Scientific Inquiry." But in a more general sense, science is applied to poetry, as mentioned above, primarily in the form of acute observation.

Scientists use poetic devices, in turn, to describe abstract or complicated concepts in terms the average person can understand. Einstein, for example, used the poetic device of metaphor—the comparison of unlike objects—to describe how mass bends light. He did this by comparing the universe to a tablecloth. He then had us imagine people holding the four corners of the tablecloth. A fifth person dropped a lead ball in the center of the tablecloth; this weight or mass caused the tablecloth to bend or sag. This unusual comparison helped us to see how the universe works.

Both poetry and science wish to convey truth as accurately as possible. Poetry is more concerned with issues of emotion, subjective perception, and the human experience, while science is more focused on the mechanistic, but both value accuracy and order.

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