Justifying Imagination in Science

Context: To advance science we need to think about the impossible.

Albert Einstein once opined that “imagination is more important than knowledge” and it may well be that this is true.  Free-range creative thinking (combined with intensive hard work and passionate dedication) is where the greatest ideas and discoveries often come from and this begs several questions.  What can an education system starved of funds can really do in the realms of blue-sky thinking and grand academic omphaloskepsis.  Will private interests and corporations pick up the bill ?  Will an academic system reliant on the likely self-interested biases of corporate sponsorship find itself subsequently enslaved to those interests ?  Does directed research inevitably select for limited intellectual and scientific outcomes ?  What of an earlier-age schooling system in which intellectual creativity and imagination may take second rank after the more pragmatic systemic emphasis on vocational training ?  How do we navigate and negotiate the perceived discontinuities between the concrete workaday world of funding bodies and the outer extremes of possibility represented by the free exploration and open application of creative conceptual vocabularies through scientific thought ?

Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.
― Werner Heisenberg, Across the Frontiers

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