There was a time, perhaps, when, like Leonardo, a scientist could also be an inventor, a painter, and a philosopher. But today, science and the arts are most often portrayed not merely as separate but even as extreme opposites. Yet these two human endeavours have much more in common than the parties at the extremes typically acknowledge. For starters, making it as an artist or in the entertainment business requires talent, persistence, and hard work, with a measure of good luck thrown in--all the same elements of a successful scientific career. And to succeed in either science or the arts, you need a genuine passion for the field, a good dose of optimism, and enduring self-belief.

The educational systems of many countries seem to push people in either one direction or the other. It's a pity, as this dichotomy, whether it's real or merely perceived, means that scientists may feel that they don't have a professional place in the world of arts and entertainment. But science and technology clearly have a lot to offer this sector, and opportunities exist for scientists who would like to dedicate their research to developing solutions for arts and entertainment projects. You don't have to be an all-rounder like Leonardo di Vinci to do it. Whether they are working on a mathematical model for the lyrical vibrato to help classical singers understand how best to use their voices or engineering robotic dinosaurs for a Jurassic Park theme ride, many science specialists shake the stereotype that scientists don't belong in the arts and entertainment worlds.

Science, technology, and artistic creativity together make a potent mix and a fun one too. So sit back and enjoy the journey as we learn about some of the ways serious scientists work behind the scenes to enable entertainment and the arts.


Ride of Her Life

Robbin Finnerty has worked as a junk-yard worker, an insulation installer, a heavy equipment operator, and a construction worker. Next Wave's Robin Arnette says, as senior roller coaster engineer for Great Coasters International, Finnerty now has a job that many engineers would scream for.


A Scientist Goes to the Movies

Visual effects consultant Siân Lawson has worked on the set of Troy and King Arthur, but even herself didn't expect her research training in biomechanics to get her there.


A Mathematical Model for Lyrical Singing

During her Ph.D., Spanish telecommunications engineer Ixone Arroabarren listened to the vibrato of classical singers carefully in order to relate what we perceive acoustically to what is generated physiologically.


Attack of the Dinobots

Next Wave looks at how engineers at a leading Canadian space-robotics company became involved in building animatronic dinosaurs for the Jurassic Park ride at the Universal Studios theme park in Florida.

Elisabeth Pain is contributing editor for Europe.