The power of the unreal in scientific discovery

Why demons haunt the history of science

Stories of scientific discovery often turn on moments of imagination, dreams and the unreal. This is no coincidence. Discovery and invention use the power of the unreal to usher new things into existence. Scientists stand outside the boundaries of the real when they push against it, writes Jimena Canales.


Eureka!—the expression is frequently used to designate the moment of discovery in science, when a genius idea suddenly enters into the mind of the researcher. What prompts such moments and what can we do so that they come to us more frequently? The utterance of the word in the context of science is often attributed to the Greek polymath Archimedes, who, as he was getting into a bathtub, had a brilliant idea that led to the principle that now goes by his name. Two centuries later after it allegedly too place, Vitruvius, the Roman architect and engineer, turned it into the story we know today. Archimedes, he recounted, had “leapt out of the vessel in joy,

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Clive Anderson 2 March 2022

Fascinating article! Thank you Jimena Canales for sharing this!

Linda Bancher 16 February 2022

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