Science Fiction and Scientific Minds

So, a few days ago, I had a conversation with a new friend who is also a scientist and happens to share my love/addiction to television. We talked about science fiction shows and, in particular, lack of good ones. And it made me think.

I think about science all day. Laws of nature. Will this work based on what we know? Does this make sense? How exactly does degraded material leave the body? Why does that reaction happen? Stuff like that. I love it. But after doing that for 8 or more hours, I just get tired of it. I want to forget about the limits of our reality and our knowledge. I imagine things. I like to let go and watch or read fiction – quite often it’s not science fiction, but this post mostly pertains to the latter. As my Dad (fan of hardcore science fiction) says, I just like to see what the human mind can come up with. While I appreciate when science knowledge is used and presented, you know, correctly, I’m (that’s me, not my Dad – I don’t know his exact opinion on the matter) also not bothered by stuff that is way out there. Weird new elements with fantastical properties discovered by random dudes in a random mine*. Complete surgical brain removal that doesn’t kill a person – or the brain – and then re-implantation of the said brain**. Mass spectrometry giving all the answers as though by the click of the fingers*** (OK, to be honest, this does bother me a little, but I concentrate on the cute technician and move on). Medicine (or poison) taking effect in the matter of seconds****. Or when one scientist knows everything***** (because, duh, don’t all scientists know everything there is to know? Or wish that we did at least, or is it just me?).

However, I sometimes encounter people (not necessarily scientists) who have a very low tolerance limit to these sort of liberties and disregard of the rules of the universe as we know them. And I wonder – does my, let’s call it, willingness to believe make me a bad scientist? Or, to put it in another way, does that mean I don’t really have a scientific mind? Whatever that is. Or – and this is what I like to think – does it mean that I am open to considering even the craziest possibilities and that’s actually a good thing? What is your opinion on the matter?

Wondering if I should be rethinking my career plans – not really, but also kind of yeah, though not for the above reason… or not just because of it,


*Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

**Star Trek: The Original Series at its craziest

***Most crime investigation shows

****Most medical shows

*****Almost any show with a scientist character


2 responses to “Science Fiction and Scientific Minds

  1. The more I think about it, the more I realise that the term “science fiction” in itself is an oxymoron (what a deep rabbit hole this is), so it’s not surprising that it can be hard for some people to accept the non-scientific science in SF, while others just accept that it’s fiction, ergo everything is possible.. Still, basic rules of logic and consistent plots without lazy solutions “because science/magic/stuff/ta-dah” should be a must, just like in any other type of fiction, right?

  2. OK, yes, this quite a rabbit hole, and also, while I suppose I’m in the ‘ergo everything is possible’ camp, I still agree that rules of logic and consistency should apply (for the most part – there are things that I enjoy just because they’re so crazy, but it’s, like, ‘so bad it’s good’ or guilty pleasure categories). I mean, I accept that the author can create a world with whatever rules they see fit, but once they do it (and they should do it), they should stick to them (expanding is also possible, of course, but it shouldn’t contradict the previously laid out laws). For instance, I think, that’s why Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (to pick two well-known examples, even though they’re straight-up fantasy) worlds are so engaging, at least to me, it’s because the authors really put time and effort into creating these worlds with their set of laws and rules and history and stuck to them throughout the story. From the science fiction category, TV series Fringe is also a good example, I think, even though it starts out in a rather contained manner, it expands without inconsistencies (not that I remember, anyway).

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