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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 10 2013: No I don't think that is an accurate statement, Science has rigorous procedures to come to an specific result , imagination is unrestricted by this procedures but imagination is not concern with any particular outcome. In my opinion we should not state that science is a subset of imagination it is not a subset of imagination, it is not contained inside imagination, ( all elements of science are not present in imagination) . The most significant contribution of this statement is that it serves as a reminder of who does the heavy lifting behind the inventions and discoveries that we attribute to science.

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