Picture a world without modern day science. That would mean no cars, computers or cell phones, let alone every other mechanical advancement mankind has achieved. As hard as it may be to imagine, that was the reality for human beings for many years. Until modern advancements were made, the devices we use and vehicles we drive were merely science fiction.
Timothy McGettigan, professor of sociology at CSU-Pueblo, believes that science fiction has played a large part in the advancements we’ve seen in the modern technology age, he said. He challenges people to continue pressing the notion of truth and reality in his latest book entitled “Good Science: The Pursuit of Truth and the Evolution of Reality.”
“It’s a book about social change, and in particular how science has changed the world,” McGettigan said. “What I argue is that the most extraordinary leaps forward in scientific thinking that have changed the world have in their origins been fantasies.”
Part of what McGettigan’s book also argues involves the questioning of misperceived truths.
“For a long time I’ve been studying the concept of truth,” he said. “It turns out that facts can be interpreted in vastly different ways and when that’s the case you have truths that are absolutely in contradiction with one another.
“People thought that the whole universe revolved around the Earth, because that’s what they looked up and saw to be the truth,” he said. “What had to happen were revolutions in thinking.”
Scientists throughout history have had unfathomable ideas, which they work toward making factual, but in the process they take those ideas in their imaginations and make them become real, he said.
In the book “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne, there is a certain vessel named Nautilus, whose underwater capabilities at that time were unrealistic, he said. Fast forward 100 years later and the first U.S. military submarine was invented, and coincidentally named Nautilus, he said.
McGettigan acknowledged President John F. Kennedy and his confidence in American ingenuity to lead the U.S. to victory in the race to the moon.
“People thought there was no way, that the technology wasn’t there and it was impossible,” he said. “Kennedy said the reason we are going to do it is because it’s so difficult.”
Accomplishing that victory completely changed the fortunes of the U.S., and we were able to become the creator of the information society because we transformed fantasy into reality, he said.
It was with examples such as the Nautilus and the race to the moon that have inspired McGettigan to write “Good Science,” he said.
The book will likely appeal to readers who are interested in sociology and science, and what the future may hold for both, he said.
“Science is an ongoing process of intellectual revolution,” McGettigan said. “We have to really think beyond what is possible so we can make what is unreal real, and help ourselves grow to new heights in the process.”