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Encounters #7: Uncertainty

9 May, 6pm   

Uncertainty has always been affecting our understanding of reality. Observations are uncertain, the models that we are building to simulate reality are uncertain, our knowledge is imperfect. Uncertainty cannot be eliminated, but it can be investigated, estimated and managed. This evening, we will hear how uncertainty is dealt with in two different areas: space exploration, and philosophy.

Roberto Maiolino – Uncertainty in space: from origin of the universe to life on other planets

Unlike many other sciences, in most areas of astronomy and astrophysics we cannot perform experiments, we have to rely on what the firmament delivers to us. Therefore, major efforts are undertaken to understand and minimize uncertainties by developing new telescopes that can observe the universe with improved capabilities. I will illustrate examples of how uncertainties affect our understanding of the cosmos, from the Big Bang to the characterisation of planets in other solar systems. 

Maurizio Ferraris – Uncertainty in philosophy

Uncertainty seems to characterize our present age, even taking centre stage in the public debate. However, there is a way to overcome it: proposing a new Webfare, namely a digitally based welfare which presupposes the recognition of the value produced on the Web and its redistribution for the well-being of every human being. 


Roberto Maiolino (Cambridge University) is Professor of Experimental Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, Honorary Professor at UCL and Royal Society Research Professor. From 2016 to 2021 he was Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology. He studies the formation of galaxies and black holes, and plays a leading role in international projects, including the James Webb Space Telescope.

Maurizio Ferraris (University of Torino) is Full Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Turin, and the president of Labont (Center for Ontology). Visiting professor at Harvard, Oxford, Munich, and Paris, author of successful television programmes and over sixty books translated worldwide, in his long career he has determined a new course of thought and studies in at least four areas: hermeneutics, aesthetics, ontology, and the philosophy of technology.

Please find the whole programme, with details HERE