SATURDAY, 23 MAY 2020
On January 28th, the Cavendish Research Staff Committee hosted theoretical physicist Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder to discuss the question that has made her famous: “How is the scientific method doing?” She is known for her controversial answer — in short, ‘badly’. The problem, she argues, lies in the set of processes we rely on to pick the good science out from the bad. From funding allocation to impact assessment to job selection, she argues that we are not just failing to support the “most promising” science. We are actively supporting science that clearly is not very promising at all. What is the point, she asks, in spending billions of dollars to build more powerful particle accelerators when the ones we have are failing to live up to expectations?
It was fascinating to watch Dr. Hossenfelder address these issues in person. By raising questions that few members of the scientific community would dare raise, for fear of compromising public faith in science, or perhaps for fear of compromising public faith in their own personal authority— she has started an important conversation. At a time when our best weapon against widespread unjustified scepticism towards science is awareness — awareness of the real issues that science does face — Sabine Hossenfelder provides a rare inside view.
By: Grace Field