University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Canada
Background/Question/Methods Conventional views of the scientific enterprise emphasize precision, repeatability, and objectivity – characteristics that seem at odds with creativity in either conducting or writing about scientific research. Notwithstanding such caricatures, however, there is room for creativity in both. Locating aspects of science that are particularly creative can spotlight an important fact: that science is conducted by humans, who along with creativity bring to their work all the virtues and vices of human existence. Using creative writing to explore and communicate this can bring new understanding to both old and new audiences. However, as scientists few of us have training or experience in creative writing. Is there a path for us?
Results/Conclusions I illustrate this confluence of creativity in science and communication with my experience writing Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider.Charles Darwin’s Barnacle explores one of the most purely creative acts in science: the naming of newly described species. While the book’s content is nothing but factual, the writing is creative in its style and perspective. The result is to bring science to new audiences, but also new perspectives to those within science – including the author. For me as a conventionally trained scientist, engaging with creative writing meant breaking habits and expectations. However, it also fed back to influence (and improve?) my scientific writing.