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Swetha Chandrasekar

Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Student, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

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Is science just imagination in a straitjacket?

This week in my Bioelectricity class, we listened to an NPR interview with Frances Ashcroft. Ashcroft is a British scientist who made a discovery in 1984 that allows neonatal diabetes patients to take pills as insulin supplements instead of injections. In her interview, as she discussed her thoughts on the scientific process and developing her theory, she referenced a quote by Richard Feynman, is a renowned American theoretical physicist.
"Science is imagination in a straitjacket."
Many scientists would argue that science does not restrict imagination, but rather promotes it. How is it that a well renowned scientist and thinker like Feynman, could feel confined when seeking answers in science? Is science a vehicle for imagination or is it used to tie down imagination with facts? What experience could have caused him to have this opinion? Does science truly restrict the imagination as Feynman suggests, or is science a vehicle for imagination?

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  • Feb 8 2013: The thought process behind this thought is seems to me extremely pessimistic, but also true to an extent. Imagination has no boundaries. Science however gives us those boundaries. Science explains every detail of our lives and what lives and takes place around us. Thus its relevance and also importance for everyone and anyone over cedes the boundaries that it creates in our minds and the ability to understand so much more around us, in coincidence with imagination, is what has propelled our society so far forward as the ever going scientific revolution continues.

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