Music, science and stars

While looking for an interesting ‘on this day’ fact for today I discovered that it would have been William Herschel’s birthday.

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Born in Germany in 1738, he fled to England to avoid serving in the war. He worked as a music teacher and composer then became interested in the link between music and mathematics. Later on in life he became interested in astronomy, built his own telescopes, and discovered Uranus, just one amongst many stellar discoveries.

It was this link between music and science that grabbed my attention. As an amateur musician myself, and a mother, and an engineer, I have long believed in the importance of the arts in general as crucial to our children’s holistic development. I am constantly saddened and disturbed by the continual reduction in funding within our education system for music, art, drama etc.

Einstein himself said ,

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

He said that music was the driving force behind his intuition.

What also strikes me about so many well known scientists is their determination. Often being the first to come up with a new scientific discovery or theory they must have faced ridicule from those who didn’t understand or didn’t want to be challenged in their way of thinking but their theories have prevailed* through their persistence and self-belief.

*Though not all – they did seem to get it wrong on occasion, Herschel thought there must be life both on the moon and on the sun!

So look to the stars, reach for the stars and don’t stop. Let your imagination run wild, be creative whether in art, music or whatever platform inspires you. Keep looking up for that is the only way, as Herschel himself said, “The undevout astronomer must be mad.”

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