Scientific Controversies

Caleb Scharf, Nick Lane, and Janna Levin at Scientific Controversies No. 8.

What Is Quantum Reality? Does Time Exist? Will Dying Black Holes Explode in Firewalls?

Major Scientific discoveries can disrupt the traditional order, leaving scientists adrift in concepts that resist familiar intuitions and beliefs. Of the new ideas that emerge, some will be wrong and some will be right. Honest and open scientific controversy helps disentangle one from the other. Eventually, one side of a debate grows in strength and finds confirmation in experiments, while the other atrophies. But both sides of a controversy contribute to the breakthrough of actual discovery – when the abstract barges into the realm of the concrete. This series celebrates that passionate spirit of scientific debate.

The series is hosted by Janna Levin, Director of Sciences at Pioneer Works. When she’s not making Sci Con happen, she’s a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard/Columbia. She is the author of How the Universe Got Its Spots and a novel A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham prize and was a finalist for some other cool awards. Janna was recently named a Guggenheim Fellow. Her latest book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, has the inside story on the discovery of the century: the sound of spacetime ringing from the collision of two black hole over a billion years ago.

Upcoming Events

Scientific Controversies No. 11: Consciousness

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Past Events

Scientific Controversies No. 10: Genetic Manipulation

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Scientific Controversies No. 9: Dark Matter

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Scientific Controversies No. 8: Are We Alone?

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Scientific Controversies No. 7: Containment

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Scientific Controversies No. 6: One-Way Ticket to Mars

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Scientific Controversies No. 5: Is Reality Beautiful?

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Scientific Controversies No. 4: Can We Explain the World?

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Scientific Controversies No. 3: The Goddamn Particle

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Scientific Controversies No. 2: Time’s Arrow

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Scientific Controversies No. 1: Many Worlds

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