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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 7 2013: i guess it is not easy to be a genius, and understand more than contemporaries. feynman was that kind of genius.

    i also suggest this talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/luca_turin_on_the_science_of_scent.html
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      Feb 8 2013: Hi Krisztián

      Thank you very much for suggesting Luca Turin's talk. I thoroughly enjoyed it and believe that it captures my thoughts on the beauty of imagination. The problem however here is although his theory on vibrational sensing is inspired and imaginative, it needs fact to be proven. Though I admire the imagination, it is necessary to apply fact and data and restrictions for research to be grounded. This however only suggests to me that the beauty of science comes in taking imagination and challenging the laws of physics and fact. If you fail, that just means it's time to imagine something else. Many answers have been found by not taking no for an answer and instead asking "Why not?"
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        Feb 8 2013: i was sure you will enjoy it, kinda your field, isn't it? maybe you can get the proof? :)

        they are getting data, but it takes time. you probably know better than me that finding out how molecule-sized structures work inside the body is not easy. we lack the toolset. plus the guy really didn't get support from academia, despite the shape theory is even less supported by data. so talk about straitjacket.

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