William Shatner: "Logic of Imagination" Propels Scientific Discovery
Scientific discovery is more complex than simply observing the physical world. How we observe and how we draw conclusions is driven by the human imagination, says Mr. Shatner.
William Shatner is perhaps best known for his roles on Boston Legal and Star Trek, and is one of the most recognizable stars working today. His distinctive voice and cadence have been the subject of many imitations, spoofs, and parodies—all contributing to his status as a pop icon and endearing him to his fans. In addition to being an Emmy Award-winning actor, he has also written numerous books, directed several projects, and even recorded a few albums.
Shatner started his career as a child performer in radio programs for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As a student at McGill University, he continued to pursue acting. Shatner spent his summers performing with the Royal Mount Theater Company. He graduated from the university in 1952 and joined the National Repertory Theater of Ottawa. Working with Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Shatner also appeared in productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario.
As Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek, he commanded the U.S.S. Enterprise, a starship traveling through space in the twenty-third century. Kirk encountered all sorts of unusual aliens and challenging situations during his journeys. Accompanying him on these adventures was his loyal crew, which included first officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and medical officer Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley). The science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry premiered on September 8, 1966, and lasted for three seasons.
In addition to acting, Shatner has experienced great success as an author. During the writers' strike of 1987, he transformed a screenplay idea into a novel. The result was TekWar (1989), a work of science fiction featuring a middle-aged private detective working in the twenty-second century. More Tek titles followed and were later adapted for television. More recently, Shatner has worked with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens to create a series of Star Trek novels.
Also a veteran of nonfiction, Shatner co-authored Star Trek Memories (1993) and Star Trek Movie Memories (1994) with Chris Kreski. He and Kreski also worked together on Get a Life! (1999), a look at the whole Star Trek fan phenomenon and Up Till Now: The Autobiography (2008) with David Fisher. His most recent work is Leonard: My Fifty-Year Relationship with a Remarkable Man.
William Shatner: The mystery that surrounds us is so profound, 90 to 98 percent, that eight percent differs from the thing you read to the thing you read is dark energy or dark matter. We don't know what it is. We don't know what 98 percent of the universe is. And this wonderful man Einstein, this wonderful man who imagined these scientific theories, much like the Greeks who said all right, If you cut something in half you've got a half. And then you cut that half and you keep going down the line you must come to the end and they said we'll call it an atom. And that's how they made their scientific discoveries through the logic of imagination. Whereas we have tools to dimly, dimly see into the physical nature, dimly see a law yeah, that seems to be a law. Wait a minute, there's something here that counteracts that law. So just like our diets, the pyramid, carbohydrates, a little bit of meat, one day is 180 degrees reversed. No, no, no, what we meant was protein and a little bit of carbohydrates; exactly 180 degrees different in your diet. That's what's happening in science all the time. There's a wonderful line, scientists spread rumors.
We know everything is unified. We know. If we use our imagination like the Greeks, we look around us and we say the whole world is unified electrically, atoms, matter, there's got to be an operating - the thing has to be managed in some way. It's there. Everything follows a logic. We have these little instruments that will peer into the universe. We're seeing a spec. We're seeing a dust mote. Wouldn't the theory of everything maybe you discover that as you die, maybe as you die you go there is the theory of everything. Boom. And you're dead.
Scientific discovery is more complex than simply observing the physical world. How we observe and how we draw conclusions is driven by the human imagination, says Mr. Shatner. The dramatic change in certain scientific conclusions provides evidence, from governmental dietary guidelines to the persistent mysteries posed by fundamental physics. That 98 percent of the universe remains shrouded in mystery — scientists call it dark matter — is proof enough that our universe is more profound than our minds. Or perhaps our minds are more profound than we tend to realize. Shatner's newest book is Leonard: My Fifty-Year Relationship with a Remarkable Man.
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