Those not involved in the scientific field, on the outside looking in, view science as a procedural and unimaginative process. That all scientists must follow a specific dogma in each and every experiment. Unfortunately a large portion of the population believe that in the work of science almost no creativity or imagination is needed. The reality is that without creativity, without the imagination of a few gifted scientists, without the courage to defy previously believed knowledge, almost none of the famous scientists would be known today and none of their breakthroughs would have seen the light of day. Without creativity science becomes still and unchanging, and stagnant waters hold no life. But luckily for society, this misconception is entirely false.
Science evolves. It changes and builds on past conceptions, and at times completely abandons old notions of how things work. To challenge concepts that have been held as fact for centuries requires the scientist to break from the pack, to say and think things that are deemed unorthodox by one's colleagues. To do this one has to think differently than the rest, to be able to stand back and look at a situation and see it in another light. This is the essence of creativity. When Darwin sailed the world in the early 1830’s, Darwin along with the rest of the world believed that all species in existence had been around since the start of the world or were created along the course of history. The belief was that the species as they exist today are the same as they were always and never undergo change. The world and Darwin included, held that a God had created the planet’s biodiversity and made them as they were. But after his time on the HMS Beagle Darwin found unavoidable evidence that organisms did in fact undergo change based upon environmental pressures and over generations these changes produced entirely new species. This theory of natural selection was so radical that Darwin sat on his research and wouldn’t dare publish his findings for decades. When he finally did publish On the Origin of Species it rocked the scientific community by challenging the pre-existing understandings of species. Discoveries and actions like this put scientists down in history and are the reasons why Darwin, Einstein, Newton, Hawking, and Galileo are household names.
Creativity (noun) : the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules,patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas. An entire field of science is dedicated to the principle of creativity. Theoretical physics revolves around mathematical models and abstractions of reality that are used to predict how objects will interact with each other. These physicists use advanced calculations to describe and predict phenomena some of which has never even been observed before such as the behavior of wormholes. No place are theories more abundant than in the field of science, and in physics there are plenty. Theory of General Relativity, String Theory, Quantum Theory, and even the Big Bang Theory. All extremely complex systems based upon ideas and conceptions that challenge our everyday perception of the physical world. In theoretical physics, scientists dedicate their entire life’s work upon theories, ideas that haven’t been proven. To excel in this field requires some of the most open and creative minds in science. Creativity is the tool that allowed Einstein to challenge the Theory of General Relativity with his own Special Relativity and is what enabled Stephen Hawking to further our understanding of Black Holes. To say that there is no imagination or creativity in science is to pretend that Theoretical Physics doesn’t exist.
People hear that scientists are bound by the scientific method and it’s true. But because they are bound by this particular method does not mean that everything must be done in a procedural manner devoid of individuality. The scientific method is actually an extremely loose guideline that is designed to allow as many original approaches as possible. The method is simply this; Make an observation, question the observation, form an hypothesis, test this hypothesis, explain the results. This Scientific Method is simply a loose guidance in getting a scientist on their way to producing testable and understandable results and the word Method produces people to assume a strict unwavering protocol. Further proof that scientists are not bound by this imaginary doctrine are the multitudes of scientific discoveries that occurred simply by serendipity. Paramount among these serendipitous discoveries is Penicillin. In 1928 Alexander Fleming was investigating colonies of Staph when he returned to find his cultures overwhelmed with a mold preventing the Staph from growing. This mold became Penicillin and would transform modern medicine and become a cure all for infections reducing fatal injuries into minor annoyances. It was no religious following of any method that brought about this miracle drug, in this case lady luck was the guiding hand.
Creativity, imagination, originality, and even dumb luck abound in science. Scientists are memorialized for their unconventional thinking that inevitably revolutionizes the whole world’s understanding of itself. Today entire leagues of scientists are paid to imagine, to predict and infer, and to challenge the way we view the universe. The very method every scientist is supposedly bound to has within it, it’s own elastic clause, encouraging every scientist to perform with their own originality and individual spin. To pretend that science does not require creativity and imagination is to pretend that science is an unchanging stagnant pool that will never evolve.
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