Science Fiction from the Point of View of Science

Lloret, Antoni
Quaderns Divulgatius, 11 1999

In general, science fiction is not a genre that has ever attracted me greatly. I shall speak from my experience as to how science fiction is received amongst my colleagues working in research, leaving aside those who combine research with university teaching and who find educational virtues in science fiction.
Those engaged in full-time research are working in a difficult domain with respect to attaining, through intellectual effort, objective knowledge, or in other words, trying to understand things as they are and not as they would like them to be. Each new generation of researchers examines the results obtained by the previous ones so that the indecisive and erroneous conclusions will be rejected and substituted by others.
When we engage in the creation of science fiction, we are not engaging in science, but in art. We break, therefore, with the aim of objectivity, the first principle of science, and introduce an immense dose of subjectivity. We might ask ourselves, then, what interest there might be in this mixture. To introduce a measure of subjectivity, an artistic component, might favour the progress of objective knowledge. Art, as an essentially communicative subjective activity, is appealing because it makes one imagine what was not imagined before, because it makes one ask questions which were not asked before. Thus, subjective experience enriches all cultural considerations.
Nonetheless, science fiction does not really interest scientific researchers . In fact, science involves a great deal of fiction in the form of hypotheses. It is fiction in the hope that it will cease to be fiction. The scientist's task is to have ideas, which must been seen through, demonstrated and applied. It is precisely this which distinguishes a researcher from somebody with ideas.
Hypotheses, like that of backward-moving, up-and-down-moving time have interested many writers, but, for a scientist, time which behaves like this involves too many incoherent elements, and nowadays it is impossible to conceive of a totally isolated system. Every part of the universe is interrelated with other parts. There are many other science fiction inspired fantasies in our modern society, for example, the belief that there are banks of semen from Nobel Prize laureates. This represents a shocking ignorance of genetics. It is for all these reasons that the researcher's first sensation is that the hypotheses raised in science fiction are not credible. To maintain coherence throughout an entire science fiction novel is not easy and very few writers achieve it. So science fiction tends to be boring for scientific researchers.