TED Conversations

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: Richard has some interesting view points on science and its study and applications. Great interviews to watch and many people may take away more philosophical view points than pure science.

    2 ideas I love. Science does not take away from beauty. We can understand all about molecules, cells, botany etc and that beautiful rose is that much more beautiful because of the understanding.

    The other idea... we can know the name of a bird, who discovered it, its latin name, its species etc and still know nothing about the bird.

    Great topic. You have given me another Feynman lecture to listen to. Thank you
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      Feb 8 2013: Thank you so much for your input. I completely agree with both of your ideas! I am making it a point to watch more Feynman lectures after hearing the TED community's input. I hope to pick up on his philosophies. So much to learn from!

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