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Roger Tsien Interview - How does a scientist know that what he or she has found is correct?

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Correctness, of course, is a very complicated, philosophical problem, but let’s not make it too complicated. Most of the time you can tell, because the results sort of make sense. They are new and yet they explain things that we already knew that were mysterious. That’s the ideal case. I can’t put it down in cold, perfect: “Here’s an absolute procedure”, because then it’s like giving an absolute procedure how to be a good scientist – – I don’t know! And yet, when you see it really done well, most of us can tell that it’s been done very well. But how to tell in advance, for all general cases, I don’t know. But you could say the same of any other form of high-level endeavor, like: Can I tell you how to play the piano really well? Well, if I could tell you, then all of us could do it. Because some of it is just the touch and the feel, and how you work with your ears... ...and make a good combination. Then most of us can tell, when we hear it: “Gee, that’s pretty impressive!” Or in any form of artistic activity, I just picked piano playing because... ...that’s something else I do – not very well. I wish I knew the secret of how to play like the people who are on records and on TV, who are the great masters of it. I try, and I’m not very good at it. So evidently, in science, for some reason I am a little better. I wouldn’t say I’m absolutely top class, but I’m clearly better at that than I am at playing the piano. I don’t know how to describe how we do it.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 1 second
Country: Sweden
Language: English
Producer: MoleClues TV
Director: Per Thoren
Views: 211
Posted by: locumele on Dec 15, 2009

Nobel Prize winner Roger Tsien interviewed for MoleClues. Entire interview available on

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