Tag Archives: Sabine Hossenfelder

Sabine sheds light on the problems in Physics’ Post Doc Research and funding

Two weeks ago, Science By Number was introduced to an area of research in Quantum Gravity that is rarely mentioned – Quantum Gravity Phenomenology.  It seems ever since the phrase “Non-Empirical Based Evidence” has been coined, those who fear Science with lose to the seductive callings of beautiful math have been speaking up more, expressing genuine (and legitimate) concern for entertaining the idea.(P.S. — This tweet just in.  literally. I couldn’t of planned this any better even if I had an infinite amount of universes to try it in…)

Appropriate Question

Appropriate Question

To start off, I would like to give John Horgan his job back and let him explain the inter-workings of why the idea of no evidence for mathematically consistent models is just simply not enough (don’t get me started too, and I’m just the undergrad watching all of this unfold…mind blown.)

“How to decide which theory is the most promising one is a pressing question in an area starved of data, and it was also the central question at the Munich workshop I attended in December. How can non-empirical arguments increase confidence in a theory?

The use of non-empirical arguments in theory development is nothing new, what is new is that its relevance is much larger now that it takes so long to test theories.

Theorists use non-empirical theory assessment all the time, when they decide what to work on or even what conference to go to. In principle that is reasonable, taking into account all knowledge that has accumulated about a theory, such as how well it’s been shown to be compatible with already confirmed theories or how many alternative explanations there are. But the problem is that this non-empirical assessment can, and almost certainly is, skewed by social and cognitive biases.”  – Sabine Hossenfelder 


But there is something more insidious going that is an actual real challenge to try and fix.  It’s a two punch combination of grad students not going into other areas of research because if you aren’t working on String, you won’t be getting paid for your help.  This REALLY begs the question whenever someone says “String theory is the only game in town!” Well..is it because it is correct, or because it was the only one that gained popular traction, and consequently more funding in hope that it would prove itself as it claims itself.   Either way, today, if you want to do work in Quantum Gravity Phenomenology, you may have to work on a more popular trending idea until something somewhere gives.

Sabine is currently expressing this to be, in part, a mess that cognitive bias is aiding in causing, and that scientists, are people too.  And this idea? I like.  I fear the day we are not susceptible to the deeper underlying currents of human nature.  But that also means, there are methods we can adopt  to change this.  We don’t have to keep perpetuating the current status quo.  I will be very curious to watch what happens and as always,

For those who want a youtube accompainied slide to a snippet of the previous interview, you will never guess what I found on accident! And again, thank you, Sabine, for keeping me on my toes!


Science On.

Jes and Jen

Sabine Hossenfelder Talks about Phenomenology with Science By Number

11705507_10153570477819574_2413192033013411831_oSabine Hossenfelder takes Science By Number on the tour of Quantum Gravity Phenomenology – in other words – there are theorists who just do math, then there are theorists who specifically apply the math  – or extend these theories to something we could actually observe in a lab.  This is where an interesting realm that is rarely talked about exists…I call it the theoretical experimentalists.

What it really is, is the natural and recently less mentioned right hand of physics – experiment…how do we devise a method to test these theories. This is what Sabine is after in terms of Quantum Gravity.  We have heard about Quantum Mechanics phenomenology but we hear very little about Quantum Gravity phenomenology.  Science By Number discusses what the word Backreaction actually  means (I had to ask), What Quantum Gravity phenomenology is, and what Sabine means when she says she researching this.


Sabine’s Blog on Quantum Gravity Phenomenology

Sabine’s Facebook Page

Dr. Bunny

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