Synopses & Reviews
Gravityandrsquo;s Ghost and Big Dog
brings to life scienceandrsquo;s efforts to detect cosmic gravitational waves. These ripples in space-time are predicted by general relativity, and their discovery will not only demonstrate the truth of Einsteinandrsquo;s theories but also transform astronomy. Although no gravitational wave has ever been directly detected, the previous five years have been an especially exciting period in the field. Here sociologist Harry Collins offers readers an unprecedented view of gravitational wave research and explains what it means for an analyst to do work of this kind.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;Collins was embedded with the gravitational wave physicists as they confronted two possible discoveriesandmdash;andldquo;Bigand#160;Dog,andrdquo; fully analyzed in this volume for the first time, and the andldquo;Equinox Event,andrdquo; which was first chronicled by Collins in Gravityandrsquo;s Ghost
. Collins records the agonizing arguments that arose as the scientists worked out what they had seen and how to present it to the world, along the way demonstrating how even the most statistical of sciences rest on social and philosophical choices. Gravityandrsquo;s Ghost and Big Dog
draws on nearly fifty years of fieldwork observing scientists at the American Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and elsewhere around the world to offer an inspired commentary on the place of science in society today.
"A splendid, edifying report from the front lines of theorectical physics . . . A wonderful gift." The San Francisco Chronicle
" and#147;An uncommonly clear and confident account . . . Even those who differ with many of Smolinand#8217;s contentions can applaud his bringing physicistsand#8217; anguished night thoughts into the clear light of day.and#8221;and#151;Tim Ferris
and#147;If you want to think in new ways about the interconnected universe around you, read Lee Smolinand#8217;s provocative, inspiring book.and#8221;and#151;Margaret Geller
"The best book about contemporary science written for the layman that I have ever read ... Read this book. Twice."
The Times of London
and#8220;In part an account of sociological fieldwork among scientists in the field and part astronomy-history mystery, Collinsand#8217;s book is a terrific read informed by almost forty years of research.and#8221;
and#8220;[T]he physics junkie or philosophy of science enthusiast . . . will find lots to mull over.and#8221;
and#8220;Gravityand#8217;s Ghost and Big Dog
is a fascinating and thought-provoking study of twenty-first century pioneering science, charting several years of significant recent developments in the worldwide effort to detect gravitational waves. The unique insiderand#8217;s perspective that Harry Collins brings to the narrative is a key strength, skillfully interweaving sociological insight and astronomical detective story.andnbsp;His reflections on the denouement to the and#8216;Big Dogand#8217; event capture very clearly both the inspiration and perspiration that underpin modern scientific discovery.and#8221;
andldquo;Written in Harry Collinsandrsquo;s usual accessible and readable style, Gravityandrsquo;s Ghost and Big Dog
makes for very entertaining reading.andrdquo;
In this illuminating book, the renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that fundamental physics (the search for the laws of nature) losing its way. Ambitious ideas about extra dimensions, exotic particles, multiple universes, and strings have captured the public's imagination, and the imagination of experts. But these ideas have not been tested experimentally, and some, like string theory, seem to offer no possibility of being tested. Yet these speculations dominate the field, attracting the best talent and much of the funding and creating a climate in which emerging physicists are often penalized for pursuing other avenues. As Smolin points out, the situation threatens to impede the very progress of science. With clarity, passion, and authority, Smolin offers an unblinking assessment of the troubles that face modern physics, and an encouraging view of where the search for the next big idea may lead.
In this illuminating book, the renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that fundamental physics -- the search for the laws of nature -- is losing its way. Smolin offers an unblinking assessment of string theory and encourages a new direction for where the next big idea may lead.
Ambitious ideas about extra dimensions, exotic particles, multiple universes, and strings have captured the public's imagination -- and the imagination of experts. But these ideas have not been tested experimentally, and some, like string theory, seem to offer no possibility of being tested. Yet these speculations dominate the field -- attracting the best talent and much of the funding.
Modern science has created a climate in which emerging physicists are often penalized for pursuing less popular avenues. As Smolin points out, the situation threatens to impede the very progress of science.
With clarity, passion, and authority, Smolin charts the rise and fall of string theory and takes a fascinating look at what will replace it. Smolin not only tells us who and what to watch for in the coming years, he offers novel solutions for seeking out and nurturing the best new talent -- giving us a chance, at long last, of finding the next Einstein.
About the Author
is the Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and director of the Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise, and Science at Cardiff University, and a fellow of the British Academy. Among his numerous books are Gravityandrsquo;s Shadow
, Rethinking Expertise
, and Tacit and Explicit Knowledge
, all published by the University of Chicago Press. He lives in Cardiff, UK.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Enlarged Edition
I. Gravityand#8217;s Ghost: The Equinox Event
Chapter 1. Gravitational-Wave Detection
Chapter 2. The Equinox Event: Early Days
Chapter 3. Resistance to Discovery
Chapter 4. The Equinox Event: The Middle Period
Chapter 5. The Hidden Histories of Statistical Tests
Chapter 6. The Equinox Event: The Denouement
Chapter 7. Gravityand#8217;s Ghost
Envoi. Science in the Twenty-First Century
Postscript. Thinking after Arcadia
Appendix 1. The Burst Group Checklist as of October 2007
Appendix 2. The Arcadia Abstract
II. Big Dog
Introduction. Big Dog Barks
Chapter 8. Black Holes Observed?
Chapter 9. Evidential Culture and Time
Chapter 10. Time Slides and Trials Factor
Chapter 11. Little Dogs
Chapter 12. Discovery or Evidence
Chapter 13. Closing Arguments
Chapter 14. Twenty-Five Philosophical Decisions
Chapter 15. Opening the Envelope
Appendix 3. Parameter Estimation
Glossary of Tree Pseudonyms with Descriptors
III. The Trees and the Forest: Sociological and Methodological Reflection
Chapter 16. The Sociology of Knowledge and Three Waves of Science Studies
Chapter 17. Methodological Reflection: On Going Native
Appendix 4. A Sociologist Tries to Do Some Physics