Remember When Pluto Was A Planet?: The Half-Life Of Facts | KCUR

Remember When Pluto Was A Planet?: The Half-Life Of Facts

Aug 30, 2012

A fact is something that actually exists; reality; truth.  Until it isn't anymore.  How does that happen?

What we know about the world is constantly changing.  According to Samuel Arbesman there’s an order to the state of knowledge, an explanation for how we know what we know. Knowledge in most fields evolves systematically and predictably, and this evolution unfolds in a fascinating way that can have a powerful impact on our lives.

In this part of today's program guest host Brian Ellison talks with the TEDxKC presenter about the counterintuitive fabric of knowledge and accepting the limits of how much we can know with certainty.

Credit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Samuel Arbesman is an applied mathematician and network scientist. He is a senior scholar at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and a fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. In addition, he writes for popular audiences as a contributor to Wired, and his essays about math and science have appeared in such places as the New York Times, The Atlantic and the Ideas section of the Boston Globe. Arbesman’s first book about how knowledge changes over time, “The Half-Life of Facts” (Current/Penguin), will be published in September 2012.

Before joining the Kauffman Foundation, Arbesman was a research fellow in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, and he completed a Ph.D. in computational biology at Cornell University in 2008.  In his spare time Arbesman has coined a new word, named an asteroid, and created an eponymous constant. He is also responsible for the Milky Way Transit Authority subway map.