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  • Marina Kurikhina

How creativity powers science.

Updated: Jun 6, 2019


"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." - Einstein


Scientists are some of the most creative thinkers, artists in their own right.

The stereotype that creative domain is available only to artists, writers or musicians is false and misleading. Creative thinking is high in demand and crucial in science, as Albert Einstein put it, "The greatest scientists are artists as well".

Alexandra Ossola writes in her article in the Atlantic, 'Society needs creative scientists for continued innovation. But does the process for teaching scientific creativity differ from artistic creativity? And can creativity be taught?'

Art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist put together a collection of interviews between established artists and scientists, linking similar processes between their practices. He interviewed mathematician G. J. Chaitin, Nobel Prize-winning chemist - Ilya Prigogene. Obrist also curated exhibitions with philosopher of science Bruno Latour and pioneering quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger.

Robert DeHaan, a retired Emory University cell biologist who now studies how to teach creative thinking, says: “If you're doing an experiment on cells, and you want to find out why those cells keep dying, you have a problem,” he says. “It really takes a level of creative thought to solve that problem.”

Jennifer Curtraro in her article How creativity powers science, brings a discussion of several scientists using creativity as a crucial element in their development and teaching. She sites how 'Imagining possibilities requires people to use what scientists who study how the brain works call “associative thinking.” This is a process in which the mind is free to wander, making possible connections between unrelated ideas.





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