But is it Science?

6 January 2020

There is no agreed criterion to distinguish science from pseudoscience, or just plain ordinary bullshit, opening the door to all manner of metaphysics masquerading as science. This is ‘post-empirical’ science, where truth no longer matters, and it is potentially very dangerous.

Essay published by Aeon magazine, 7 October 2019

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Coming to Terms with your Personal Reality

30 September 2019

Jim’s career spans both academic science and business. But he is also an award-winning popular science writer, and the nature of reality has always fascinated him. From his research on the social construction of reality he concludes that, as human beings, we rely utterly on the reality that we create in our own minds, derived from all our experiences with the social and physical worlds. What we perceive and understand to be reality is entirely personal, and therefore extraordinarily vulnerable.

TEDxTUBerlin – Shaping Reality, Studierenwerk Berlin, 17 May 2019

View TEDxTUBerlin website

The Problem with Multiverse Theories/Prospect Magazine

The problem with “multiverse theories”: they’re just not science.

Over the last few decades “multiverse theories” have become increasingly fashionable within a relatively small—but publicly vocal—group of theoretical physicists. This group specialises in foundational problems in cosmology, particle physics, and quantum mechanics. These theories are advertised as science’s answer to much that we can’t otherwise explain about the universe we inhabit, the elementary particles we have discovered in it, and the reasons for our own existence.


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What is Space?

10 September 2018

This is a talk I delivered at the Science Gallery, Dublin, on 6 September 2018. It covers some elements of my book Origins: The Scientific Story of Creation, and my forthcoming book Quantum Space: Loop Quantum Gravity and the Search for the Structure of Space, Time, and the Universe.


Just how special is human existence?

16 June 2018

In a recent science blog post at Prospect magazine, science writer Philip Ball reviews a recent paper on the nature of the relationship between the size of the cosmological constant and the possibility of star and galaxy formation. As always, Ball’s reporting is entirely accurate, but this paper isn’t about the multiverse, in the sense of promoting or testing ‘multiverse theory’. By taking the catchy word ‘multiverse’ out of context and putting it in the title of the post, the absurd notion of the multiverse as a valid scientific theory, with the capacity to perform calculations (and, by assumption, make predictions), becomes normalised. Multiverse theory can do neither of these things: it simply does not have the same status as quantum theory or big bang cosmology.

It’s hard enough to resist the tide of metaphysical nonsense advertised as science when this is coming from the scientists themselves. Is it too much to ask that science writers and publishers resist the temptation to leap on this bandwagon at every opportunity?

Read my alternative view here

Physics Controversies Past and Present

10 May 2018

I was asked to summarise the talks presented at a one-day conference on Physics Controversies Past and Present, organised by the Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics and held at the Department of Physics, University of Oxford on 24 February 2018. This is what happened.

View on the HAPP Centre website

A Game of Theories

15 March 2018

I’m about to make a start on a new book with the working title: A Game of Theories: The Quest for the Essential Meaning of Quantum Mechanics (I’m pretty confident that this title won’t survive to publication). I’ve spent the last couple of days bedding down the structure and approach, and have tried to sharpen my thinking by working on the opening Preamble. I’ve decided to post the Preamble here, and invite readers to let me know what they think. You can get some idea of what the book will be all about from its list of contents, which I’ve appended at the end.

Read the article here

Mass at the Royal Institution

28 September 2017

Everything around us is made of ‘stuff’. But what is it, exactly?

Jim Baggott explores our changing understanding of the nature of matter, from the ancient Greeks to the development of quantum field theory and the discovery of the Higgs boson.

Jim is an award-winning science writer. He trained as a scientist, completing a doctorate in chemical physics at the University of Oxford in the early 80s, before embarking on post-doctoral research studies at Oxford and at Stanford University in California. He was a lecturer in chemistry at the University of Reading for 5 years before leaving academia to join the business world.

View on the RI YouTube Channel