Science and Research in Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate was a personal favorite from the previous year and recently I decided to revisit the show. A brilliant sci-fi show, Steins;Gate has a great cast of characters and a compelling plot that manages to incorporate time-travel in a way that doesn’t make the story fall flat on its face. There is also something else that I liked about the show, that I don’t think gets much mention, and that would be the nature of scientific research as it is portrayed in Steins;Gate.

Accidental Discoveries:

The story of Steins;Gate starts off with some college students discovering how to send text messages into the past with a phone and a microwave. I say “discover,” but in truth, Okabe and crew created the time machine entirely by accident. If Okabe had not sent the text message to his friemd Daru at the moment that he did, he may have never even entered the new world-line and the story would not have happened. But this is actually fairly common in scientific research. Sometimes the results don’t come from meticulously planned tests, but from accidental experimentation as a result of causing something entirely unexpected. This occurs another time when Okabe discovers that the television downstairs needs to be on for the time machine to work because he was downstairs at the time Kurisu was running the experiments. But that isn’t to discredit the researchers that make the discoveries. Even if the discovery was an accident, it was the ingenuity and brilliance of Okabe, Kurisu, and Daru that made the accident into a complete time machine capable of sending someone’s memories into the past.

Impossibilities and Scientific Development:

In the beginning of the story, Okabe attends a lecture by Makise Kurisu on the subject of time-travel. The genius girl humiliates Okabe by disproving all of his theories about how time-travel might be possible while also showing that time-travel is something unrealistic. However, shortly after, she becomes aware of the possibility of time-travel through the device Okabe and Daru create in their “laboratory.” Though she is incredulous at first, Kurisu comes to terms with the possibility of time-travel and the fact that her knowledge was incorrect. This development is also representative of how the scientific world expands in the real world. Ideas that were previously considered impossible become plausible or even simple to accomplish as scientific knowledge and technology advances. Not only that, but the scientific world is also continually proving itself wrong and replacing old information as it new discoveries. It is important to note that Kurisu is an extremely talented individual whose knowledge far exceeds that of the common person. But despite all of her knowledge, when faced with the existence of something she previously thought impossible, she had to revise her opinion on the matter.

That Which Drives Science:

Finally, it is the individual’s questions and curiosity which is the driving force behind science and research. Despite her reservations and obvious desire to avoid Okabe and Daru, Kurisu is unable to stay away from the laboratory and from the experiment once she becomes aware of the existence of time-travel. This isn’t because Kurisu wanted to develop a time machine for her own use, but because the time-travel technology represents uncharted territory that is ripe for exploration by a researcher. This especially becomes apparent when upon completing the tests on the phone-microwave, Kurisu immediately set out to discover whether it was possible to send a person’s memories back in time as opposed to just text messages. But even then, she had no desire to actually use the machine. Okabe and Kurisu experimented with time-travel not for personal gain, but simply because they were curious.

 

This post only begins to scratch the surface of what Steins;Gate has to offer. As a time-travel thriller, Steins;Gate is among the best that I have seen and an all-around good anime at the same time. If you have not seen it yet, I encourage you to give it a try.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Science and Research in Steins;Gate

  1. I just finished Steins;Gate last night, so it was pretty good timing for me to re-discover this post today (I saw it earlier but didn’t read it for fear of spoilers).

    You bring up a good point here. Steins;Gate, in all honesty, mulls over what many would consider the “science stuff.” There isn’t really any mechanical basis or scenes of them doing research or experimenting. But the series does get the bigger picture view of science down quite well, as you point out.

    Nice post.

    • Thank you! Yes, I agree with you on this point. Steins;Gate doesn’t really touch on the actual research or the “science stuff,” but I think that is because they really can’t. It is a different story for a show like Moyashimon where the science behind the brewing and fermentation is known and can be explained. In comparison to Steins;Gate which is a show about something this is not yet scientifically possible, time-travel. But even if the science stuff could not be explained, it may have been nice to see more of the “research” happening.

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