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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 9 2013: There are so many bright, inquisitive minds involved in this conversation that I am given comfort "imagining" a better tomorrow. I only wanted to add a simple thought .....before any understanding, or comprehension, the thoughts of "Why?", "How?", "What?", "Where?", "When?', or "Who?' were involved in the hypothetical, the data, and the theory, eventually becoming an ever shifting fact, it was your imagination that provided the ability to question. Hopefully, none will suffer from asking these because they believe science has given the understanding...it too, came from your imagination.

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