How Better Science Fiction Can Help Achieve Bigger Scientific Breakthroughs
If our present scientific achievements pale in comparison to the grand gestures of putting a man on the moon and building nuclear weapons, it may be that our capacity to tell imaginative narratives is suffering.
If our present scientific achievements pale in comparison to the grand gestures of putting a man on the moon and building nuclear weapons, it may be that our capacity to tell imaginative narratives is suffering. In other words, better science fiction may be needed to achieve more impressive real world results. At the University of Arizona, a new department has been built to tackle this very issue.
Called the Center for Science and Imagination, partnerships between the university and companies like IBM and the World Bank aim to build visionary stories that could encourage scientists and engineers to think bigger. The idea is not without historical precedent:
"In 1945 Arthur C. Clarke published the idea of a geosynchronous communications satellite, 20 years before the first one was launched. In 1982, William Gibson envisioned a world dominated by a computer network, which he named 'cyberspace.'"
Of course achieving scientific breakthroughs means taking big risks, and taking risks means failing from time to time, and failing can be expensive--very expensive. In his Big Think interview, Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses how future breakthroughs may come about:
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Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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