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:

Read more at Pacific Standard

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Related Articles

To save us, half of Earth needs to be given to animals

We're more dependent on them than we realize.

(Photo Lily on Unsplash)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists says our survival depends on biodiversity.
  • A natural climate strategy we often forget.
  • Seeing our place among the Earth's living creatures.
Keep reading Show less

New infographics show how cigarette smokers are socially penalized

There's a high social cost that comes with lighting up.

(Porch)
Sex & Relationships
  • The home improvement company Porch recently polled 1,009 people on their feelings about smoking.
  • The company recently published the results as infographics.
  • In terms of dating, 80 percent of nonsmokers find the habit a turnoff
Keep reading Show less

The "catch" to being on the keto diet

While short-term results are positive, there is mounting evidence against staying in ketosis for too long.

Brendan Hoffman / Getty
Surprising Science
  • Recent studies showed volunteers lost equal or more weight on high-carb, calorie-restricted diets than low-carb, calorie restricted diets.
  • There might be positive benefits to short-term usage of a ketogenic diet.
  • One dietician warns that the ketogenic diet could put diabetics at risk for diabetic ketoacidosis.
Keep reading Show less