Sunday, April 3, 2016

Week 1: Two Cultures

In his 1959 lecture "The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution", CP Snow addresses the concept of the polarization of the two cultures, namely that of natural sciences and literary intellectuals. Though subtly and sometimes inadvertently, the impact brought by the polarization of these two cultures clearly affects everyone's life in one way or another. A simple observation at the social and behavioral aspects of the students and their ambience at UCLA North and South campus would easily serve as a testament to Snow's statement: "the feelings of one pole become the anti-feelings of the other". Perhaps "anti-feelings" would be too strong of a word, but there are definitive characteristics that identify the different group of people around these two campuses.As a Mathematics major, I belong to the South campus, which houses the all Sciences and Engineering departments at UCLA. There, the science buildings evoke a sense of academic solemnity, and engineering buildings tend to have a more modern and technological outlook.
South Campus: interior walkways in California NanoSystems Institute
South Campus: Department of Mathematics
The North campus, on the other hand, is the home for liberal arts majors. As one travels from the South to North campus, an immediate change in ambience is evident. Unlike the South campus, North campus houses a disparate collection of sculptures in the Murphy Sculpture Garden outside UCLA's Broad Art Center.
North Campus: Murphy Sculpture Garden
In addition to the ambience, one could easily pick out the difference in dress code, or "fashion style" in some sense, of the two different student bodies: South campus majors tend to be more casual, to the point of wearing shorts and flip-flops, while North campus majors tend to be more trendy. However, the two cultures in the context of the present society is definitely not as polarized as Snow described. With rapid advancements in technology, computers are now indispensable in our everyday lives: with the internet, we have access to the huge database of resources of the World Wide Web. These advances have also given rise to the amalgamation of arts and technology, leading to the concept of the "Third Culture" mentioned by Prof. Vesna in "Toward a Third Culture: Being in between". This "Third Culture" is aptly captured in the photo below, where students in the Design Media Arts class at UCLA are using modern softwares to aid their designs. 
Design Media Arts students using technology
Mathematics, in some sense, is representative of the "Third Culture" defined by the amalgamation of arts and technology. On one hand, it is a fundamental building block of all science, since it can be used to establish a subject on a rigorous theoretical basis. On the other hand, the beauty of Mathematics itself is something that even laymen marvel at, making it a remarkable piece of artwork in some sense. As a Mathematics major, I hope to further explore the synergistic qualities of both cultures and hope to develop a deeper understanding of them this quarter. 

1. Snow, C. P. “Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution.” Reading. 1959. New York: Cambridge UP, 1961. Print.
2. Vesna, Victoria. "Toward a Third Culture: Being in Between." Leonardo. 34 (2001): 121-125. Print. 
3. "California NanoSystems Institute". Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 April 2016.
4. "UCLA's North V. South Campus". Odyssey. N.p., 30 Sept. 2015. Web 2 April 2016.<>
5. UCLA Design Media Arts, Summer Class. Digital image. Web. 2 April 2016.<>

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