All Theoretical

I found myself following a random link to a YouTube video (by the way, “the LHC” [mentioned in the video] is the Large Hadron Collider, if you were wondering). There was a lot of time in the video given to words by a woman named Dorota Grabowska. Dr. Grabowska is a senior fellow at CERN.

I still haven’t watched the whole video, but there was a quote that gave me such strong feels, that I decided I needed to write this while I was still feeling them. Dr. Grabowska said something that fiercely led me to remember a post I made on Sliding Constant over twelve years ago.

Dr. Grabowska was asked these questions:

“…Does that mean that we know that there are these types of dark matter?…” [critical aside by Jeff: Dr. Grabowska nodded at this point, before the next words] “…or they’re still all theoretical?”

asked to Dr. Grabowska

“They’re still all theoretical.”

Dr. Grabowska

I think this concerns the core of what “theoretical” means to most people versus what it means to a scientist speaking in a formal context. I really think that most of us see “theoretical” as meaning something much closer to “hypothetical”.

I understand the thought process here. “Knowledge” implies experimental result. However, for Dr. Grabowska, the word “theoretical” caries a lot more weight than for most of the viewers. Theories are certainly not the end of things, but they’re far from the beginning.

3 replies on “All Theoretical”

A way that people can understand the difference I’m talking about in the meaning of the word “theory” is this: Note in the video that Dr. Grabowska agrees that “these types of dark matter” are real and simultaneously agrees that they are “all theoretical”. For most people (and for the interviewer, I’d argue), the first statement rules out the second one. Dr. Grabowska, on the other hand doesn’t have any problem viewing something as both “real” and “all theoretical”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *