‘Extraordinary Voyages’ refers to the series of adventure tales written by the author Jules Verne, the man who may rightly be said to be the father of the science fiction genre. Verne (read a short biography here) is known for his predictive abilities and for his interlacing of fact and fiction in such novel and complex ways as to present fantastic ideas as foregone conclusions and far away places as right at our front door. His legacy and influence on those who followed him stretched into and through the 20th century.
In writing the Extraordinary Voyages, Jules Verne used imagination as a vehicle to carry people to the farthest known regions of knowledge and technological capabilities. Then he took them further. This was his great accomplishment, a creative leap that provided new possibilities and paved the way for future explorers to make his voyages a reality. A wide range of adventurers and scientists, from astronauts to polar explorers to other science fiction writers, have claimed Verne as one of their primary sources of inspiration. This is the reason for choosing the name for his body of work as the title of this blog. Imagination and a willingness to explore, traits that were embodied in all his stories, are central themes. Verne’s special role, that of a creator of possible realities, is tremendously important. Anything a person, or humanity as a whole, wants to become, they first have to be able to dream it.
The first step to imagination is curiosity, the wonderings of a questioning mind. These wonderings have inevitable consequences. On the far side of curiosity and imagination lies discovery, that wonderful something, somewhere, that is waiting for us. And the bridge between curiosity and discovery is exploration, the searching and seeking that has permeated so much of human history. This is exploration on a very general level: the physical exploration of the world through travel and movement, the exploration of the workings of the universe through scientific discovery, and more personal exploration through reading and reflection. The fundamental link between all these things, the essential meaning of exploration, is the search for a better understanding of our world, our selves, and the connection between the two.
I earned my PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2014, and since then I have spent my time teaching and exploring the world in various ways. I occasionally tweet about science and my own adventures @CarmodyDR. My personal website, with other writings and projects, can be found at www.danielcarmody.net.