L. A. Review of Books: Professor Dan Rockmore on Speculative Fiction

On October 21, 2017 by Harrison

“PREDICTION IS VERY difficult, especially if it’s about the future,” said Physics Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr. Bohr was presumably talking about the vagaries of quantum mechanical subatomic life, but the statement holds true at other scales too. Predicting the future is tough, and any good scientist knows enough to hedge his or her bets. That’s what error bars are all about. It’s why science usually proceeds methodically: hypotheses are formulated, experiments conducted, observations collated, and data evaluated. Almost by definition, science is intolerant of fanciful speculation — and especially so in the current climate, when external funding from almost all sources requires that pure research have near-term applications.

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