How Maverick Scientists Changed Science & the World

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Fin Creek, Rocky Mountains, BC (photo by Nina Munteanu)

“In some cases, a new branch of the sciences … can begin with a few mavericks (with a high Intelligence/Knowledge [I/K] ratio) whose research is initially dismissed as speculative,” writes Kathleen Taylor, research scientist at oxford University. “As their way of thinking gradually wins acceptance, it attracts recruits at an increasing rate until a paradigm shift occurs and allegiances transfer wholesale from the old establishment to the new. A period of growing stability follows in which knowledge is assembled (with a decrease in I/K ratio) which supports the new ideas. Creative output falls, stagnation gradually sets in. Problems begin to emerge, which are ignored by all but a few … and so the cycle begins again.”

Despite the mandate of exploration and discovery in science, the scientific community can be rather harsh with those who threaten its established hegemony. Many scientists have been ridiculed and marginalized by their peers only to have their findings and conclusions vindicated much later. Sometimes, after they themselves have perished. I call it artist syndrome.

Over a hundred years ago, in 1871, James Clerk Maxwell’s Cambridge University inaugural lecture expressed the mood of scientific achievement at the time: “In a few years,” he said rather smugly, “all the great physical constants will have been approximately estimated, and … the only occupation which will then be left to the men of science will be to carry these measurements to another place of decimals.” A hundred and forty-four years later, we are far from tying off decimal points and remain poised to understand the great wonders of our universe, quantum gravity and the nature of reality. Perhaps—I say a little tongue in cheek—it is time for the women of science to forge ahead. Which brings me to non-local phenomena, quantum entanglement and decoherence, Schrödinger’s cat, and the possibility of instantaneous long-range communication.

What do these quantum concepts have to do with water and my book Water Is…? Nothing … Well, everything.


Water Is-pBook COVERThis article is an excerpt from Water Is… (Pixl Press), Preface.




nina-2014aaNina Munteanu is an ecologist, limnologist and internationally published author of award-nominated speculative novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit for the latest on her books.



2 thoughts on “How Maverick Scientists Changed Science & the World

  1. Ah yes, Maverick ideas. I used to see my leaping from field to field to construct my archetypal books as a great virtue, though I was much derided by my one-theory-at-a-time professional colleagues. I am entranced with the Preface to your book and last night, reading on, enhanced my vocabulary by “anamolous,” “tetrahedron,” and “fractal,” which I will try to incorporate into my conversation….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing this, Annis. To enable those incredible discoveries, science needs to be open to possibilities, whether outlandish or not. The irony is that all too often it slides into traditional thought. Sprinting from field to field as you’ve done is a good way to keep one’s mind limber and open to those possibilities…


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