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Dark Energy and the Ethics of Curiosity. Roger F Malina O bservatoire A stronomique de M arseille P rovence ( OAMP ) Leonardo/ISAST : I nternational S ociety for the A rts- S ciences- T echnology. A couple of confessions:. I am a positivist Critical realist, constructivist

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Dark Energy and the Ethics of Curiosity

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Dark Energy and the Ethics of Curiosity

Roger F Malina

Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille Provence (OAMP)

Leonardo/ISAST: International Society for the Arts-Sciences-Technology

A couple of confessions:

I am a positivist

Critical realist, constructivist

World exists, is knowable

Reliance on the senses and their extensions

Scientific method

I am an atheist

Emergence in complex systems

Concordance Model of Cosmology:Big Bang..Re-ionisation..Large scale structure..stars and galaxies..planets..life

The Dark Universe:A billion pound Scientific Controversy

Astronomers now believe only 3% of the content of the universe is made of the same stuff as us.

And maybe Einstein’s Theory of Gravity needs to be modified, is wrong on large scales

And, Or ?

Dark Matter

1/3 Dark Matter, whose gravity holds together the structures we see

2/3 is Dark Energy that drives the acceleration of the expansion of the universe

A satellite to study dark energy and dark matter

Massive collection of data

A international scientific collaboration

Total End to End cost: 1 billion pounds

Womb to Tomb schedule: 1998- 2018 ? 20 years…

Ten different research labs and universities

80 person core collaboration already..hundreds

Societal Limits to curiosity

Three linked approaches within the scientific method that stop curiosity

Explanation through New Physical « Laws »:

Compact Descriptions of the World

Experiments on the world

Modified Gravity, Quintessence


Virtual Worlds that mimic our World

Retrodiction vs Prediction

Pattern Recognition:

« Petabyte » era, Massive Cataloguing, Virtual Observatories

Doing experiments on data about the world

Extrapolation vs Explanation…The End of Theory…

When does one stop looking ?

What is the limit of curiosity ?

Scientist: When one has a tested explanation that makes sense

Artist: When one has generated an experience that creates meaning/changes perception/realised self expression

What kinds of explanations make sense ?

Scientist: When we are dealing with epistemologies/ontologies that are commensurate with our current science

Artist: When it is relevant to the human condition and experience. Individual and shared ..intensity

Is there an ethics of curiosity ?

Science and the Ethics of Curiosity, Sundar Sarukkai, 2009

Most Scientists would say: No

Most Artists would say: Yes

Curiosity as a driver of technology:“Most” of the content of the Universe is “unobservable”

Not observable with unaided human senses

Not observable with existing technologies:

Augmented senses

Extended Senses

New senses

Not observable because of measurement method

Theoretically unobservable

Conceptually Unobservable

Sensory paradox:

Most of our information about the universe now comes in ways, contexts where we have no basis for intuition, language, metaphorical frameworks.

These devices « hallucinate » in ways with which we have no experience. How to do « ground truth » experiments ?

How to decide what to be curious about ?

New Senses:Gravitational Wave ObservatoriesLIGO in USA VIRGO in Italy

New senses: The Antares Neutrino Observatory under the Mediterranean

What path to take through the universe ?cf Cheese Diagram Guardans, Czegledy SLOW........................................................................................................


SMALL               OUR SIZE                           LARGE

Scientific Curiosity

Scientific curiosity is ‘pure’, driven by a child like desire to understand ourselves and the world around us

Pure Science vs Applied Science

Note: Fine Art vs Applied Art

Curiosity does not accept authority, but relies on confrontation of hypotheses/meanings with experiments/experience.

No function of ‘science critic’ cf ‘art critic”

Ethos of Scientific Curiositycf Bunge 2006, Morton

Intellectual Honesty


Epistemic Communism

Organized skepticism




Towards an Ethics of Curiositycf Sundar Sarukkai: Science and the Ethics of Curiosity 2009

Curiosity is embodied

Curiosity is enacted

Curiosity is cultural

Curiosity is social

Curiosity is collective

The claimed distinction between “pure” and “applied” science is not sustainable

In some cultures, eg some Indian traditions, doubt rather than curiosity is a dominant driver ( cf Descartes)

“Beware of binary oppositions” !

Curiosity is embodied:Varela: All knowledge is conditioned by the structure of the knowerStelarc Char Davies

Curiosity is enactiveeg Marcel.li Antunez RocaRichard Feynman: What I cannot create, I cannot understand

Curiosity is SocialMarco Peljham and Makrolab

Curiosity is CulturalSaint Augustine: It was curiosity led me along the false trails before submitting tochristian baptismsFrancis Bacon: It is Charity that must motivate the knower, not curiosityDonna CoxRuth WestWeather Data Bases                                   Protein Sequence Data

Curiosity is collective:Frank Malina/WAC corporal team: first man man object in space 1947

Alan Lightman:

Individual scientists are not emotionally detached from their work, it is through their collective activity that objectivity emerges

Modern Science doesn’t make common sense

New scientific knowledge comes through the use of instruments that have contact with a world that is not our world

Our languages, metaphors, descriptions are disconnected from these worlds

We are trained on the wrong data set for survival

Einstein:” The universe of ideas is just as independent of the nature of our experience as clothes are of the form of the human body”

Science has become a cargo cult

Science as a Terrain for Art

Forming intuition on mediated sensory data

Designing/Interacting with simulated systems

Making sense/meaning of dense data, petabyte era

Making Science Intimate, Peoples Science, Micro Science

New Ontologies, New Intuitions,New Sensuality

Curiosity:D’ou venons nous ?Que Sommes Nous ?Ou Allons Nous ?Ethics of Curiosity: “the nature of the task of the “ought’ is the other-directedness of the “is”

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