Did Science Fiction Influence You?

According to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, “Science fiction is useful both for stimulating the imagination and for defusing fear of the future.” Yet to some, science fiction is a distraction from real science.

Sigma Xi is exploring new ways to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Our question to our members was: Did science fiction influence you? The overwhelming reply was a resounding: Yes! A good sampling of responses is included in the third in our series of informational papers. Please click here for your copy.

Many Sigma Xi members shared specific titles and authors that captured their imaginations and inspired an interest in science.

The majority of responses were brief, but some provided longer reflections. Most respondents were from our emeritus membership ranks, but the demographic was remarkably wide (i.e., students to retired—the oldest being 85), including women and men from almost every research discipline.

Some are published authors of science fiction themselves, as well as peer-reviewed scientific articles and books (our own Asimov), while others write just for their own enjoyment. We appreciate those who responded to the prompt and hope you enjoy these reflections on the inspirational role of science fiction in the lives and careers of research scientists and engineers.

We will update this document as needed. So feel free to e-mail us with your own reflections on science fiction and how it did or didn't influence your career (development@sigmaxi.org). Please let us know whether we can include your name and e-mail address for those who wish to follow up with you.