The new semester is going to start soon and with it our Naturwissenschaftscafè is going to continue. Hopefully all of you had relaxing holidays and were able to recharge your energy.
The topic of the next meeting is going to be “How to charge a quantum Battery” and will be prepared by Ben. It will take place on the 28th of February at 19:00 in Cafè Tunnel.
To get some insight on the topic pleas consider reading the provided literature:
Since this is a rather specialized topic and we are a very interdisciplinary community Ben will keep it rather basic. So please don’t hesitate to come if the topic makes you interested.
Besides that there will be an organizational discussion about the day and time of our meetings in the new semester and some other stuff.
We are very glad to announce the second anniversary of the founding of Naturwissenschaftscafé!
Two years ago we had the idea to drink beer (or other beverages) and discuss science that we were not able to discuss in university. Well, this escalated quickly (not only the ethanol consumption) and next semester we have the first official NWC Lecture Series! (which you can btw apply at ufind: scientific realism)
To celebrate this and the fact that we actually managed to keep this regular over such a long time, we invite you to join the 2nd Birthday NWC meeting on Wednesday 14.2. 19:00h at the Tunnel.
We will discuss open questions from the last two years, the lecture series and will just sit around and drink. So please join us IMPORTANT! Even though this is a celebration for the most part, there is also important literature to prepare. Please read following paper carefully:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19375883 The results will be discussed next wednesday. See you there!
Whether there exists something ‘real’ to be described by science is one of the oldest question in philosophy of science, and it is one of the fundamental pillars on which scientific disciplines are built. In particular, are theoretical entities introduced by scientific theories merely useful predictive tools, or rather do they offer a faithful description of an outside ‘real’ world? Do we have scientific (i.e. non-metaphysical) methods to discriminate between these world views?
In this regard, foundations of natural sciences were shaken by the advent of quantum mechanics. Indeed, this theory demolished most of the a priori ideas, upon which classical theories were built, including the conception of reality. Crucial fundamental issues in quantum theory, such as the ontological status of the wave function and of the properties of particles are still heatedly debated. As D. Mermin pointed out, “today, nearly 90 years after its formulation, disagreement about the meaning of the [quantum] theory is stronger than ever. New interpretations appear every day. None ever disappear”.
Despite the importance of the concept of realism for science, fundamental issues of such a kind are rarely treated in as much detail as they would deserve in university courses. Therefore, a group of students of the University of Vienna from different scientific fields (see https://naturwissenschaftscafe.wordpress.com/) have organised a lecture series devoted to the subject of scientific realism. The lecture series will consist of nine lectures (in SS 2018), held by some of the most prominent (both international and local) professors in the field of foundations of quantum mechanics and philosophy of science. Moreover, the lecture series will be an official course of the University of Vienna, for which students could get ECTS upon passing an exam.
Further information can be found on Ufind under the following link: https://ufind.univie.ac.at/en/course.html?lv=260020&semester=2018S
This initiative has been stimulated also by a very successful (over 200 attendees) symposium on foundations of science, entitled “Shut Up and Contemplate!”, which was organised in March 2017 (https://shutupandcontemplatesymposium.wordpress.com/).
In our next meeting Flavio will discuss the question “What is Fundamental?” and expound his and Chiara’s viewpoint on the topic. The meeting will take place on the 17th of January at 8pm in Tunnel Vienna.
The Topic was inspired by the Community Essay Contest of Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), in which Flavio and Chiara participate. Their essay “Demolishing prejudices to get to the foundations” can be found and commented under the following link:
To have some structure, the suggested way of reading the essay is:
- Level 1-general idea:
Until page 6, second paragraph (the one ending with “for every future scientifically significant theory.”)
- Level 2-examples from physics:
the whole text
The next Naturwissenschaftscafé will take place on the 29th of November at 20:00 in Tunnel Vienna.
This times topic is going to be the business of scientific publishing and its implications on the community and will be presented by Manu.
Please have a look at the literature provided below:
The Guardian with an article about the business of scientific publishing and its historical development. (Gives a good overview of the problem)
An article by Neal S Young, John P. A Ioannidis and Omar Al-Ubaydli about the influence that current publication practices may have on science (especially life- and health sciences)
A blog post by Reinhard F. Werner: Why we should not think of PRL and Nature as THE top journals in physics
Wikipedia: The cost of knowledge protest.
Nicolas Gisin: Thought police on Arxiv.
Are there alternatives to main stream publishers?
The next and last meeting for this semester will take place on the 30.6. at 18:00 at the Tunnel Vienna.
Since we probably don’t see each other till October, we figured it would be nice to have a “home exercise” for the summer (like last year). Therefore I’d like to ask you for suggestions. If there is any literature you think is interesting, let us know. On the next meeting we will then choose together which one we want to read over the summer. Besides that we also will send out a collection of all suggestions.
For our this times meeting Nino prepared the topic Social implications of AI. Please have a look at the literature provided:
Wait-But-Why Blog Part 1&2:
Paper on AI-Safety:
“The focus of the discussion should not be if and how a general AI is technological feasible but on the social implications of automation and the rapid improvement of AI’s”
The next meeting will take place on Fr 16.6. 18:00 again in Tunnel Vienna. This times topic will be: What is life? Are viruses alive? presented by Geli and Patrick.
Please read into and watch the materials provided in order for us to have a common basis of knowledge for the discussion:
Watch this video explaining in brief what Viruses are and discussing differences in organization compared to things perceived as alive.
Read these articles discussing how newly found giant viruses might alter our previous understanding of aliveness/alivehood/alivebeing?
Read a physicists perspective on the subject in Erwin Schroedingers book: What is life? A book that is based on a course of lectures held in 1943.