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JPL Experts to Discuss Juncture of Science, Art at Online Caltech Lecture

Published on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 | 11:32 am
An artist’s depiction of what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available scientific data. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Jet Propulsion Laboratory experts are set to host an online lecture Thursday discussing the intersection of science and art.

The online lecture series is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be streamed via YouTube, Caltech said in a written statement. It’s part of Caltech’s regular Theodore von Kármán Lecture series.

The lecture will feature JPL Visual Strategist Joby Harris and JPL Ocean World Astrochemist Morgan Cable.

“In this STEAM inspired chat, speakers will discuss how science influences art and art, in turn, influences science,” according to the statement. “How JPL artists collaborate with scientists to create artistic renderings of scientific discoveries will also be discussed, and how artists take information and enhance it through data visualization.”

As a visual strategist at JPL, “I’m a designer and artist, and I support all the different engineers and scientists and missions and projects with any kind of design that they need,” Harris explained. “This could cover mission formulation of early concepts, all the way through a finished mission and communicating what these missions are doing to the general public.

“We’re going to be talking about the complexities of science and the amazing people who work within that field, and then where artists fit in to help communicate these complex things to the general public, to get them excited about everything JPL and NASA are doing,” he said.

While generally considered very different fields, there is a longstanding connection between science and art, according to Harris.

“It is a full circle of inspiration. You meet people at NASA and JPL, and a lot of them got into what they got into not only from teachers and schooling, but because they were influenced by TV, movies, books or comics,” he said. “Artists can step into this conversation and work within science facts to even pull people forward into a greater, ‘What if?’ That seems to pull a lot of people into science and engineering.”

The lecture will be streamed on JPL’s YouTube page at

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