Thursday, November 4, 2010


I am always amazed how serendipitous life can be. Oddly I find that when I encounter a new word or concept, it all of a sudden begins to appear wherever I go. Or is it that when you open yourself to the Universe, it comes to your doorstep?  Cognitive bias, anyone? Imagine my surprise when after the exchanges of last week I came upon these three ideas in the current issue of Scientific American.

Consider this headline:

Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues

Why can't we have a civil conversation about climate?
And goes on to say in the fist paragraph:
For most of her career, Curry, who heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been known for her work on hurricanes, Arctic ice dynamics and other climate-related topics. But over the past year or so she has become better known for something that annoys, even infuriates, many of her scientific colleagues. Curry has been engaging actively with the climate change skeptic community, largely by participating on outsider blogs such as Climate Audit, the Air Vent and the Black­board. Along the way, she has come to question how climatologists react to those who question the science, no matter how well established it is. 
Now, I certainly do not claim to be the caliber of Judith Curry as a scientist, nor do I claim that the current conversation is nearly as crucial as climate change. Yet, some of the messages are instructive, not the least of which is the clarification of some of the subtle uncertainties in climate science.

I wish I had Scientific American's penchant for creating titillating headlines. How does this one grab you?

Hawking versus God: What Did the Physicist Really Say about the Deity?

The battle for eternity is fought on Larry King Live
And while I am profoundly interested in Hawking's ideas, here is what really spoke to me:
“The theories that Hawking and Mlodinow use to base their arguments on have as much empirical evidence as God,” wrote cosmologist Marcelo Gleiser on an blog. Moreover, Gleiser added, “because we don’t have instruments capable of measuring all of nature, we cannot ever be certain that we have a final theory.”
This bears repeating: "Because we don't have instruments capable of measuring all of nature, we cannot ever be certain that we have a final theory." Isn't this beautiful? I love science!

And last, but not least, Christopher Hitchens provides this inimitably lucid observation:
“What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”
What a wonderful contradiction to hold, realizing that science is never complete, yet we must always go to the next level to gather the evidence. Science is about questions and discussion. Go forth, question and discuss.  


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