• Question: What do other scientist think of your work. Do they agree with it?

    Asked by maeve to Meeks, Pete, Stephen, Steve, Tom on 22 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Marieke Navin

      Marieke Navin answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      Hey Maeve, Yes I think so, I haven’t done anything particularly controversial! In particle physics we work in huge collaborations of lots of scientists (hundreds). Occasionally people do report results that people don’t believe until they have been checked by another experiment. If another experiment doesn’t agree, then people tend to not believe the first results. This has happened in particle physics. We just keep weighing up the evidence from experiments.

    • Photo: Stephen Curry

      Stephen Curry answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      Ha – great Q Maeve.

      I guess I would have to say some do and some don’t. When you are working at the forefront of knowledge, it can be very difficult to get the facts straight, however careful you are about your experiments.

      Even with very careful measurements, you can miss things if your equipment is not sensitive enough.

      This happens to me some years ago. We determined the structure of a protein molecule that we thought consisted of two lumps of protein connected by a thread. We found no evidence that the two lumps could stick to one another.

      But a few years later, someone with a more sensitive piece of apparatus repeated the experiment and he found that the two lumps did indeed stick together. I wasn’t too happy that our result had been shown to be incorrect (or at best, incomplete) but that is the way science works. We are all trying our best and eventually one of us gets to the answer. That is why free exchange of information between scientists all over the world is an important part of the scientific process.

    • Photo: Tom Hartley

      Tom Hartley answered on 22 Jun 2010:

      On the whole, if other scientists know about my work (a big if) they tend to agree with it – I haven’t sparked any major controversies, and when people have checked my work or run similar experiments, they’ve tended to confirm my findings. Excitingly, I’ve occasionally made predictions which were subsequently confirmed in other people’s experiments. This is a great feeling.