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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Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.
- During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
- If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
- Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
- Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
- This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
- The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.
- SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
- A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
- A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
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