Science and observation: measuring for knowledge

November 16, 2018 @ 11:00 am
iThemba LABS, Cape Town
Dr Pete Jones
SPEAKER: Professor Andy Buffler Department of Physics, University of Cape Town; and Metrological and Applied Sciences University Research Unit (MeASURe)
VENUE: iThemba LABS, Auditorium


The art and act of measurement lie at the very heart of the enterprise of Science. Measurement mediates between the complexity of the real universe in which we live and the idealised order of physical theory. This lecture will illustrate the powerful role that careful observation of nature plays in the creation of all scientific knowledge, and the subsequent development of technologies. Unambiguous understanding of the quality of data from experiment, whether from the detectors located within the caverns of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, or from a handheld radiation counter, is critical for the effective use of the data. I will provide examples from my own research programmes in applied nuclear physics where radiation is put to use in a variety of contexts. The lecture will also make the case for placing measurement at the forefront of our laboratory- based teaching programmes and argue for a more central role of a philosophy of measurement in science education at all levels.