I received some additional information about Carlo Pantano’s presentation on “The Art of Science of Glass” that will be held at 12 noon, March 26, 2010 at Penn State University.

Don’t expect a formal and technical lecture. Instead, Pantano’s presentation/conversation is part of Penn State’s ongoing “Unplugged” luncheon series that is modeled on the Café Scientifique concept that looks for opportunities to have an informal exchange between scientists and the public.

Here is what Pantano – who directs the Penn State Materials Research Institute – tells me he hopes to cover in his presentation:

“Historically, artists and scientists have been very successful collaborators. The glass artists in Italy gave Galileo his first glass lens. Archaeological stained glasses provide models for nuclear waste disposal. The Glass Flowers, which are precise, realistic models of plants, served as models for botanists at the turn of the century. Obsidian, a natural volcanic glass, first served stone age man for utilitarian purposes but progressed to be an artform. Today, both natural and synthetic glasses are widely used to create glass art. (Or, is it art glass?) Moreover, the materials and technology used to create the world-renowned glass art of Tagliapietra and Chihuly are as important to artists today as the samples of arts and craft glass were to the early scientists who made the first spectacles, thermometers, telescopes, batteries and vacuum chambers.

“Yet, we do not really educate across the art-science interface.

“In this conversation, I will describe these and other crossovers between the art and science of glass: glass manufacturing defects that inspire art; stained glass and photovoltaic solar art glass; glass art using a femtosecond laser; the increasing use of glass in architecture and medicine; and the broader impact of glass in our society. I will also describe our DaVinci glassblowing program at Penn State and our recent international excursion to bring artists, chemists and conservation scientists together at the graduate and professional level.

“My primary motivation for the DaVinci program at Penn State is to put real materials into the hands of undergraduate students in any discipline. A material they can make, study, control and be creative with. Glass art, especially glassblowing, familiarizes art students with scientific principles, materials and technology; for science and engineering students, it provides a sense of aesthetics and the importance of creating new ideas through association rather than simply deductive thinking. Artists and scientists may have different practical goals and approaches, but understanding and describing the nature of things is always at the root. Other motivations for the program are to heighten the interest of children and the public in science, and more generally, to introduce students to the real world of interdisciplinarity and the difficulties of communication therein.

The talk will take place in the Executive Room at the Penn State Conference Center Hotel. It is open to the public and includes a buffet luncheon. The event will begin at 12 noon, with the talk to begin at 12:15 p.m. to allow time for people to go through the buffet line. The cost is $8 per person for members of the Penn State Alumni Association and $12 per person for nonmembers. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting Marilyn Engle at mbengle@psu.edu or 814-863-8117. Payment will be accepted at the event by check made payable to Penn State. The deadline to make a reservation is Friday, March 12.