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Stefi Baum Colloquium Abstract (April 20, 2016)

The Long Arc of Science

Using examples from my own astrophysics research career as well as modern science more generally, I will discuss how ideas in science evolve, the importance of persistence, and the necessity for humility when using current scientific knowledge to influence public policy. From exciting realizations about the impact of black holes in the centers of galaxies to our understanding of the impact of farming on the environment or the relative benefits of margarine and butter, it is clear that scientific knowledge is seldom complete and almost never arrived at in a linear process. To coopt the famous quote on the moral universe, "The arc of science is long, but it bends toward truth."