With our economy a shambles and our environment threatened, is there any reason to be optimistic about the future? Matt Ridley says there’s scientific proof to say we should be.
Tagged with “science” (10)
Alok Jha and Ian Sample talk to Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn-Smith, who was instrumental in the creation of the Large Hadron Collider
Our own science correspondent Ian Sample has written a book about the LHC’s quest for the Higgs boson, Massive: The Hunt for the God Particle. He was happy to tell us all about it.
Producer Andy visited the new Skin exhibition at London’s Wellcome Collection, where he got to wear a "social condom".
We also highlight an experiment in science journalism we are carrying out on our website. Story Tracker. It might just revolutionise the way we cover major science stories.
Finally, next weekend is Science Hack Weekend: Get Excited and Make Things with Science! at the Guardian’s offices in King’s Cross, London. Bring your own bunsen burner. (Actually, don’t.)
What is the Big Bang, who came up with idea and why do we believe in it? Simon Singh told the story of the Big Bang theory, from its birth in the 1920s to the observational evidence that backed it and then clinched it. As well as discovering the development of the Big Bang theory, Simon also discussed more generally how new scientific ideas are invented, developed and adopted, which included the partnership between theory and experiment and the role of personalities and politics.
Carol Tavris describes dissonance theory and how self-justification and self-deception often keep people from changing their minds even in the light of compelling contrary evidence, because the evidence is often dissonant with one’s self-image. She details the implications of dissonance theory for the persistence of psychic charlatans and other peddlers of the paranormal, and how it may explain how someone like Sylvia Brown can live with herself, and also how it may explain how believers remain so gullible about such unsupportable claims. She describes confirmation bias as a component of dissonance theory. She talks about how dissonance theory applies to the skeptic movement, both in terms of suggesting the best strategies for engaging the credulous, and in terms of fostering skepticism about one’s own skeptical views. And she argues that skepticism should be affirmative rather than destructive in its approach, and focused on both critical thinking and creative thinking alike. Also in this episode, The Honest Liar, Jamy Ian Swiss, talks about who psychics really see when they look in the mirror.
This is a love story. And, oddly enough, it starts with an interstellar space mission and a golden record.
In 1985 a book appeared that changed the way people thought about the history of science. Until that time, the history of science had usually meant biographies of scientists, or studies of the social contexts in which scientific discoveries were made. Scientific ideas were discussed, but the procedures and axioms of science itself were not in question. This changed with the publication of Leviathan and the Air Pump, subtitled Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life, the book’s avowed purpose was – “to break down the aura of self-evidence surrounding the experimental way of producing knowledge.” This was a work, in other words, that wanted to treat something obvious and taken for granted – that matters of fact are ascertained by experiment – as if it were not at all obvious; that wanted to ask, how is it actually done and how do people come to agree that it has truly been done.
The authors of this pathbreaking book were two young historians, Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, and both have gone on to distinguished careers in the field they helped to define, science studies. Steven Shapin will be featured later in this series, but How to Think About Science begins with a conversation with Simon Schaffer. David Cayley called on him recently in his office at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science at Cambridge where he teaches.
Music is more than just pitch and rhythm, timbre and tempo. Music can comfort. Or annoy. It helps us celebrate – and mourn. Music can foster a sense of group identity. (Consider national anthems.)
Are human beings hard-wired to enjoy music? What role did music play in the evolution of human societies? What would life be without music?
In this World Science Forum, we talk to Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist at McGill University. He’s an expert on music cognition and the author of two books: This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs.
Levitin argues that music is at the heart of human nature. The World’s Rhitu Chatterjee spoke with Levitin for The World Science Podcast.
This article was written for Scroll magazine number two, on the theme of “place”, where it appeared in edited form as “Disrupting the Conceptual Metaphors of the Web”:
We’ve developed an array of metaphors for talking about the intangible spaces of the web. Maybe it’s time to unshackle ourselves from some of them.
Part visionary, part mad scientist, and absolute genius, Tesla should be as famous as Edison – but he’s been largely forgotten. Kurt talks with Samantha Hunt about her new novel The Invention of Everything Else. Tesla is the protagonist, and despite the outlandish biographical details all through the book, there was very little she had to make up.
We speak to mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, who is replacing Dawkins as chair for the public understanding of science at the University of Oxford
"It captures precisely the things that I love doing," Marcus du Sautoy tells Alok Jha and James Randerson as he prepares to take up the post of Simonyi chair for the public understanding of science at the University of Oxford in December.
"One is high-level science … and the other is communicating it. It gives me the brief to do the two things that I love doing." Accordingly, du Sautoy will continue to pursue his passion for prime numbers, number theory and group theory as professor of mathematics at Oxford.
Earlier in October he came into the studio to talk about The Story of Maths, a series of films he has made for BBC4 where he travels the globe looking for the roots of his subject.
As the new chair for the public understanding of science he will be stepping into the boots of Richard Dawkins, but he insists he won’t be pursuing his predecessor’s anti-religious agenda. "I’m bracing myself for people asking me whether I believe in god. I’m an atheist, but for me the important thing is the wonder of science. There are so many exciting things to talk about. My focus is going to be very much on the science and less on religion."