Cosmology and Ambition: Losing the Nobel Prize (with Dr. Brian Keating)


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What would it have been like to be an eyewitness to the Big Bang? In 2014, astronomers using the powerful BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole thought they’d glimpsed evidence of the period of cosmic inflation at the beginning of time. Millions around the world tuned in to the announcement, and Nobel whispers spread like wildfire. But had these scientists been deceived by a galactic mirage? In this popular-level talk, cosmologist Brian Keating tells the inside story of BICEP2’s detection and the ensuing scientific drama. He provocatively argues that the Nobel Prize actually hampers scientific progress by encouraging speed and competition while punishing inclusivity, collaboration, and bold innovation.

Dr. Keating is s a cosmologist at the University of California San Diego and Principal Investigator of the Simons Observatory collaboration in Chile. He is the author of a popular book, Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science’s Highest Honor.

This talk was recorded on Nov. 14, 2018.

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