On the Difference between Science & Science Fiction

My eldest daughter’s first words were not “Mama” or “Daddy.” They were “What’s that?”

I’m not even kidding.

As she’s grown, she has remained as inquisitive as ever. She’s a tenacious girl who tests boundaries, not unlike the raptors from Jurassic Park.

And her love for knowledge has only increased from her initial question. She’s a thinker. In the words of raptor expert/victim, Robert Muldoon, “When she looks at you, you can see she’s working things out.” I think’s there’s a good chance that my daughter will grow up to be a scientist (or possibly a raptor expert herself).

Why do I think that?

Because “What’s that?” is the question behind all of science. Science seeks to understand the way things work, what is going on beneath the skin of reality.

Science Fiction asks a very different question. “What if?”

What if scientists could use blood from mosquitoes trapped in amber to resurrect dinosaurs? What if the experiment went wrong and nature acted out in chaotic ways? jeff_goldblumWhat if Jeff Goldblum got all hot and sweaty and had to open up his shirt for some air?

And though they ask fundamentally different questions, science and science fiction inspire each other in profound ways. Science provides the basis for fiction writers to explore new and exciting avenues of “What if?” while science fiction provides scientists to put new and exciting avenues of “What’s that?” under the microscope.

What is your favorite question? Do you seek understanding or do you reject the nature of things in favor of the possibility of more?

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3 responses to “On the Difference between Science & Science Fiction

  1. Pingback: My New Favorite Subtle Slipstream Story for Kids | Stuck by Oliver Jeffers | Josh Mosey | Writer·

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