To infinity and Beyond: the Universe as Experiment

Is it rational to believe in things beyond the observable? A conversation with theoretical astrophysicists Prof.dr. Heino Falcke and Prof.dr. Renate Loll about the limits of evidence, life as an experiment, and the life vision of a scientist. Can a scientist believe in God?

This program was organized jointly by students of Veritas-forum Eindhoven and Studium Generale (TU/e).

If you look up at the sky on a clear night, you will see a beautifully radiant, fascinating starry sky above you. Although many years of research have enormously enriched our knowledge about the universe, it still remains a great mystery. What lies beyond the unknown?

For renowned scientists Prof.dr. Heino Falcke and Prof.dr. Renate Loll, understanding the universe is the ultimate scientific challenge. Falcke is world famous for presenting the first ever image of a black hole (April 2019); Loll is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of Quantum Gravity, the holy grail of fundamental high-energy physics. Both conduct scientific research in the same tradition. However, they have their own talents and beliefs, and therefore different views on the power of science and everything around them. What they both value highly: the experiment.

Together and with the audience, Falcke and Loll discuss their views on doing science in relation to their attitudes toward life and to their views about the inexplicable. Is it necessary to be able to prove everything? What role do assumptions play in scientific experiments? Are faith and science at odds, or are they an enrichment of each other and of life? A conversation about motives, about knowing and not knowing, and about belief and disbelief.

The conversation will be moderated by science journalist Ans Hekkenberg. She is an editor at the popular science monthly New Scientist. Ans Hekkenberg speaks and writes about physics, astronomy, technology, and the importance of diversity in science.

Prof.dr. Heino Falcke is a professor of Astroparticle Physics and Radio Astronomy at the Institute for Mathematics, Astronomy and Particle Physics (IMAPP) in the Faculty of Science (Radboud University, Nijmegen). His research focusses on super massive black holes and jets. In October 2020, he published his book Licht in de duisternis (Prometheus).

Prof.dr. Renate Loll is professor in Theoretical Physics, also at the Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics (IMAPP, RU Nijmegen). She works on developing a theory of quantum gravity, reconciling the beautiful geometric description of space and time laid out in Einstein's theory of General Relativity, with the insight that all of physics at its most fundamental level must be described by quantum laws of motion. Loll also holds a Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

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