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June 17, 2020

Pure imagination

June 17, 2020

It’s been said that Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” and “Macbeth” while being quarantined during the bubonic plague. Isaac Newton developed calculus, formulated his law of gravitation and analyzed color, light and the spectrum while quarantining at his family farm during the Great Plague of London. He was only 24 years old at the time.

During my time living in a pandemic quarantine, I’ve been significantly less productive. There have been no major scientific discoveries or literary masterpieces happening here at my house. Most days, I’m lucky if I remember to eat, shower and let the dog out. I spend my days working hard, but I’m not changing the world — just sharing stories about the Spartans who are.

My free time is spent walking the dog, tackling home improvement projects, watching mindless television and having wine on the deck. I’m pretty sure those don’t qualify me for any note in the history books, but I’m OK with that. I keep meaning to finally sit down and try writing something longer and meaningful. But, somehow, I’m exhausted just staying at home. I suppose there’s still time if I let my imagination run wild.

Imagination. Gene Wilder, as Willy Wonka, sang of changing the world using “pure imagination.” Isn’t that the truth? All of the greatest discoveries, inventions and works of art happened because someone dreamed about them first. Someone’s pure imagination envisioned a way to change the world.

MSU neuroscientist Galit Pelled has used her imagination to explore a way to create “smart” prosthetics for people. She and her team are studying the way an octopus moves its limbs and the connection between its brain and its tentacles. They’re hoping to find a way to create similar connections for humans with prosthetics. It’s innovative and fascinating research you can learn more about in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Octopus tentacles inspire better prosthetics for humans. The video in this feature is mesmerizing and beautiful. Maybe it will inspire your creative pursuits.

Stacey Fox has creatively combined her talents into a way to translate science. She is a professor of journalism and a classically trained musician, who has performed globally as a professional percussionist and composer. Imagining music as a “wonderful medium for translational science,” she created an album to teach children about the planets and space. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Music and Mars to learn more about the project and preview a music video from the album.

I’m guessing that even in Terrence Lindsey’s wildest imagination he would not have envisioned a pandemic world where he is caring for patients during his summer break. He is a senior majoring in nursing who has been working in a nursing home facility on Chicago’s north side. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Caring for COVID patients, to learn more about this inspirational young man’s experience.

Pandemic or not, Spartans are constantly imagining ways to make a better world for everyone. From discovering breakthroughs in solar technology to creating an app to help us avoid ticks this summer to making sure blind students have the technology they need, we never stop working.

There is pure imagination running through the minds of hundreds of thousands of Spartans around the world. Many will actually end up in the history books because of their discoveries, but that doesn’t diminish what the rest of us do.

Maybe the most creative thing you invent is a way to teach your child something or a way to optimize time during Zoom calls. Maybe the best you can imagine is getting through the day. Collectively, it all matters. It will take all of us to create a better future. 

Let your pure imagination run wild. You never know what it might come up with. #SpartansWill


Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by G.L. Kohuth


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