Creativity and Science
There are many people that believe that creativity has no role in the scientific process, when the opposite is actually true. Science requires a great deal of critical thinking and resourcefulness. It’s true that once an experiment has been established it is essential that the same procedure is followed and nothing is changed, but this is only one aspect of science. When most people think of science they picture people in white lab coats analyzing data but fail to see the creative thinkers behind all this, who designed this experiment and were the first ones who questioned what the outcome might be. The process of coming up with a question, figuring out to test that question, and carrying out a full procedure is one that most people don’t appreciate or fully understand.
Throughout history the role of creativity in science has made itself clear time and time again. If Newton had not questioned what the force that pulls objects to Earth was and come up with a new way of looking at the world, modern physics would never have been born. If Darwin had not been creative enough to reimagine the popular views on why the differences between species exist, he would not have been able to come up with his theory of natural selection. If Louis Pasteur had not questioned the cause of bacterial diseases, vaccines may never have been created. Human history and advancements have been filled with people rethinking what was possible and testing these boundaries; something that can only be done with in innately curious and creative mind. While the actual experimental process may rely more heavily on following a specific procedure than on imagination, creating that procedure and knowing which questions are the right ones to ask is almost entirely imagination. If you’re trying to find a solution to a problem no one has solved before, you can’t use the same strategies everyone else has been using. Albert Einstein himself said “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” and in doing so cut to the core of scientific discovery; to find unique answers you must ask unique questions. In order to push forward our understanding of the world it is essential that scientists try new things and think up different ways to solve common problems, which requires a great deal of creativity.
Many people think that creativity has no place in science. These people are hugely mistaken however, as evidenced by every scientific breakthrough in history. Innovation and cutting edge discoveries redefine what can be done, but first they have to imagine what may be possible.
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