Nicky the Doubter


To mark the centenary of the publication of Albert Einstein’s equation ‘E = mc2’, the online publication spiked – in collaboration with NESTA and the Institute of Physics – is conducting a major survey of renowned scientists and members of the international scientific community. For some reason they’ve invited me to participate in the survey.

All we need do is respond to the following question:

If you could teach the world just one thing about science, what would that thing be, and why? That is, what single scientific principle, concept or discovery do you wish everyone understood? And why is it so important?

Quite simply, the answer has to be: you must have doubts about everything you experience. The skeptical soul of science is its lifeblood

A good example, of course, would be the experience of Copernicus (known to his mates as Nicky). He questioned the Earth-centred cosmology which had become dogma, realising the Earth was merely a planet, and if the Earth is a planet, then the planets may be Earths; if the Earth is not central, then neither is humanity.

Quite a profoundly Earth-shattering conclusion from such an innocuous principle of having doubts!

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