Physics, Earth & Space Icon Physics, Earth & Space

“Our 20th- and 21st-Century Ptolemaic Epicycles”?

Photo: Alex Filippenko (screenshot).

Here is some refreshing philosophical candor from Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley, as he describes his “wake up in the middle of the night screaming” worries that dark energy and dark matter might be theory-driven devices to accommodate the data. “Band-Aids to explain the data,” he wonders, “but they’re just completely wrong.”

He remarks, “Maybe these are our 20th- and 21st-century Ptolemaic epicycles… I take no position on the physics and astronomy questions raised (because I can’t), but am fascinated by the philosophy of science parallels to similar moves in molecular phylogenetics and systematics.

Go here, at about 9 minutes into his interview with Lex Fridman:

Fridman is a first-rate interviewer. I love his stuff. On a recent drive to and from Pittsburgh, I listened to his four-hour+ long interview with Stephen Wolfram. Compelling.

Paul Nelson

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Paul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.



Alex Filippenkodark energydark matterLex Fridmanphilosophy of sciencephylogeneticsphysicsPtolemaic systemsystematicsUC Berkeley