The neuroscience speaker was joined by big data speaker Jer Thorp at this year's PopTech 2012 Conference in Maine. (Check out photos of the event, captured by Thatcher Cook on PopTech's Flickr account, here). The focus of this year's event was on creating systems—whether they are social, economic, or political—that are resilient to disruption. When it comes to seeking out breakthrough ideas in science, Eagleman—who has amassed a “near rock-star following”—looks to art for inspiration. Though traditionally working in what is seen as a “left-brained” profession, Eagleman said that crossing into more creative thinking helps him find and refine his ideas. The bestselling author has often spoken about this important role that the two disciplines can play in scientific and human discovery when they are merged together. In his talks, he unravels the complexities of the human mind—both how it works, and how its functions impact our daily lives.
Jer Thorp, The Data Artist in Residence at The New York Times, is another speaker that uses both left and right-brained thinking in his work. In a workshop he gave at the conference, he encouraged the audience to “hire an artist if you have a novel problem [because] artists are trained to face novel problems.” Thorp's work involves turning complex strands of digital data into mesmerizing and meaningful art installations. By combining the scientific study of data with the accessibility of artistic expression, Thorp is helping us understand more about ourselves and our society.