I am a professional scientist by trade, and more than anything else, the trait I value the most in myself, my students, and my colleagues, is imagination. All too often when we learn about science as kids, we are taught that it is a little box with explicit rules that must be obeyed (sometimes called “The Scientific Method“). While there is some truth in that notion, nothing could really be further from the truth. The beginning of all science is imagination.
We imagine what the world should be like.
When we see the world, we imagine why it looks the way it does.
When faced with puzzles and problems, we imagine ways to solve them.
When we want to explore a far away place, we imagine how to do that.
Perhaps not surprisingly, my “hobbies,” the things I do outside of my professional work, all have a sciencey flair to them, but what they really have in common is imagination. My hobbies are all endeavours that connect me in some way to the Cosmos, to fuel that crazy little muse in my brain called my imagination.
I already blog regularly about science topics at writescience.wordpress.com (go check it out!), so why start this blog? The impetus to start this blog was my acquisition of a small, underwater robot known as an OpenROV. I decided I had to have a place to record my efforts to build and operate one. Over time, I expect we will delve into other things I do (build telescopes, fly high-altitude balloons, rocketry), but my ROV is the beginning. I expect all things being equal, it won’t be as polished and clear as I try to be at my other blog; I think of this more as “my diary of imagination and adventure.” I hope you enjoy riding alongside.
I have a healthy respect for great works of the imagination. I try not to let my mind be fettered by scientific inaccuracies in movies and television shows. Instead, I focus on the fact that these works of art are endeavouring to help us learn something about ourselves — they are telling stories about us, right here right now, through the lens of science fiction. I gather deep pleasure and motivation from these stories, fueling my ambitions not because they present some target for my scientific work and hobbies, but because they inspire me to do what I do and tell the stories of what I do in the hopes of moving some one with tales of the Cosmos the way they have moved me with tales of imagination. Hence, blogs like this one. My allegiances in the world of science-fiction fandom are many, but J. Michael Straczynski and Babylon 5 hold a special place in my heart. The title to this post comes from Babylon 5, spoken by the enigmatic ambassador Kosh as our heroes took the great leap off into the unknown sea of the future.
And so it begins…