In the interview with Jill Tarter, she mentions how science fiction sometimes forms the basis for later scientific innovations. I wonder what she thinks about how science fiction may be important or hindering for students interested in astrophysics. Is it more important for students interested in astrophysics to learn about the current state of research, in order to later develop new scientific innovations? Or are there benefits in having students, unbiased by previous astrophysics results and instead inspired by a limitless creativity of science fiction, come into the field?
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This is a great question. Before learning any physics, or astrophysics principles in school all my "background" came form science fiction films and books. As long as we hold these biases aside if we pursue research in the filed, I wouldn't see anything wrong with this sort of creativity.
This is a very thought provoking question that I have never really considered. Fields like astrophysics carry such a quantitative and research based connotation that I never considered that science-fiction type creativity could be just as important. In the end, you likely need the creativity to make conclusions about observations or data nearly as much as the math or science skills.
Good question, Jordan. I am betting Jill would be in favor of science fiction as inspiration for astrophysicists