Nov 4, 2018

How Does Knowledge Get Into Society? A fly-by-artist-in-residence and a Dialogue

The artist Sadie Weis was shadowing some of the scientists at Paul-Drude-Institut (a research-institute for nanomaterials) for eight weeks, observing the way they work, how scientists communicate with eachother, how they explain stuff to an outsider. The result of this dialogue is a light-installation and - maybe more important for the scientists involved - a reflection of the scientists  and of the artist on the languages they use. 
This project of an artist in a fly-by-residency will be wrapped up on Saturday, November 10th with a presentation by the artist Sadie Weis and a panel discussion on differences and similarities in the way artists and scientists communicate with the outside world

                November 10, 2018 from 14-18
                Paul-Drude-Institut für Festkörperelektronik
                Hausvogteiplatz 5–7, Berlin-Mitte

For the Dialogue, please register at 

Der Dialog wird auf Deutsch stattfinden
"Wie kommt das Wissen in die Gesellschaft?"
Sadie Weis, Künstlerin
Prof. Dr. Liane G. Benning, GFZ Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Norbert Palz, Vizepräsident der Universität der Künste, Berlin
Josef Zens, Leiter Medien und Kommunikation, GFZ Potsdam
Moderation: Dr. Carsten Hucho, Transfer, Paul-Drude-Institut, Berlin

Oct 21, 2018

How can your research have an impact, if you don't care about knowledge-transfer?

Research can be relevant but ineffective

One important difference between basic research and applied research is the time it takes for the generated knowledge to become effective in society. This effectiveness is generally measured in economic terms but is certainly much wider in scope. While it is obvious that application-driven research shows an effect in society much faster than fundamental research, the consequences of fundamental studies can be vastly bigger. The effects of application-oriented or application driven research tend to be rather incremental, while basic research has the potential to be truly disruptive.
But then -

The potential has to be 'activated' by knowledge transfer

No matter on which end of the scientific scale your research is located - and definitely independent of your personal preferences - the potential societal impact of research can be extremely high but a real impact being totally absent. Obviously, the knowledge gained has to be actively transferred into society. And this is another big difference between basic and applied research: application oriented science has the process for knowledge-transfer embedded in its strategy. Knowledge-transfer (here often referred to as technology-transfer) is already part of its fabric while for fundamental research it is generally not.
But only with adequate knowledge-transfer activities does knowledge have a chance to reach its target-audience. 
This transfer comprises of the audience-specific translation of research-based knowledge, which makes it usable. And only with adequate motivation and enabling of the potential recipient to understand the offer does the scientific knowledge that was so admirably transferred get absorbed and can be 'used'.

There simply is no impact of 'relevant' research without these complex transfer-activities.

Apr 12, 2018

How can you do knowledge transfer if you have no knowledge?

I just had to endure another few minutes of Michio Kaku rambling about something he does not even start to understand: free will. Physics, he says, puts an end to the debate about free will. His reasoning? After lots of 'Einstein' and 'Heisenberg' iconography ('god does not play dice', 'there is uncertainty'), repeating the simple and wrong 'an electron is everywhere at the same time' he arrives at the oh-so mind-numbing and wrong banality that we have a free will because there is uncertainty dominating physics. This makes the act of a murderer unpredictable and really evil (as compared to the Newton-driven murderer whos actions are predisposed by Newtons laws. Everything would be deterministic from the beginning of time - everything could be calculated, nothing would be left to chance ... hey, Michio, there is more to the world than crude mechanics .... and therefore that fella would be guilt-free (talking of the physics-laws-driven killer, not Michio, who, of course is guilty as hell. Guilty of oversimplifying).
So non-determinism equals free will. Yes? Got it right? All memebers of the Heisenberg-family (electrons, small particles...), who's position is 'everywhere at the same time' (according to 'theoretical physicist' Michio Kaku) have free will. sure.
f§$k no!
non-determinism is not free will!
Popularizing science the way this guy does is popularizing ignorance.
I did not have to watch him.
But I did.
Proving that I have no free will. At all.

Jan 8, 2018

dumbing down

One of my fellow smart_'sses just published a book! 😀
In german 😢
So, this is the moment to learn one of the less accessible languages on the planet.
Or have your german-speaking friend make this book a huge success and it will be translated to any language you understand. Or english.
Since the essays are a lot about dumbing-down mankind by drowning us in ubiquituous babbling, let me keep it short:
Congratulations Daniel Rapoport, it's a book!