Gravity's Ghost And Big Dog: Scientific Discovery And Social Analysis In The Twenty-first Century

Paperback | January 14, 2014

byHarry Collins

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Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog brings to life science’s efforts to detect cosmic gravitational waves. These ripples in space-time are predicted by general relativity, and their discovery will not only demonstrate the truth of Einstein’s theories but also transform astronomy. Although no gravitational wave has ever been directly detected, the previous five years have been an especially exciting period in the field. Here sociologist Harry Collins offers readers an unprecedented view of gravitational wave research and explains what it means for an analyst to do work of this kind.
           
Collins was embedded with the gravitational wave physicists as they confronted two possible discoveries—“Big Dog,” fully analyzed in this volume for the first time, and the “Equinox Event,” which was first chronicled by Collins in Gravity’s Ghost. Collins records the agonizing arguments that arose as the scientists worked out what they had seen and how to present it to the world, along the way demonstrating how even the most statistical of sciences rest on social and philosophical choices. Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog draws on nearly fifty years of fieldwork observing scientists at the American Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and elsewhere around the world to offer an inspired commentary on the place of science in society today.

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Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog brings to life science’s efforts to detect cosmic gravitational waves. These ripples in space-time are predicted by general relativity, and their discovery will not only demonstrate the truth of Einstein’s theories but also transform astronomy. Although no gravitational wave has ever been directly detected, ...

Harry Collins is the Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and director of the Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise, and Science at Cardiff University, and a fellow of the British Academy. Among his numerous books are Gravity’s Shadow, Rethinking Expertise, and Tacit and Explicit Knowledge, all published by the Universi...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:392 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:January 14, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022605229X

ISBN - 13:9780226052298

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface to the Enlarged Edition

I. Gravity’s Ghost: The Equinox Event
Introduction
Chapter 1. Gravitational-Wave Detection
Chapter 2. The Equinox Event: Early Days
Chapter 3. Resistance to Discovery
Chapter 4. The Equinox Event: The Middle Period
Chapter 5. The Hidden Histories of Statistical Tests
Chapter 6. The Equinox Event: The Denouement
Chapter 7. Gravity’s Ghost
Envoi. Science in the Twenty-First Century
Postscript. Thinking after Arcadia
Appendix 1. The Burst Group Checklist as of October 2007
Appendix 2. The Arcadia Abstract

II. Big Dog
Introduction. Big Dog Barks
Chapter 8. Black Holes Observed?
Chapter 9. Evidential Culture and Time
Chapter 10. Time Slides and Trials Factor
Chapter 11. Little Dogs
Chapter 12. Discovery or Evidence
Chapter 13. Closing Arguments
Chapter 14. Twenty-Five Philosophical Decisions
Chapter 15. Opening the Envelope
Appendix 3. Parameter Estimation
Glossary of Tree Pseudonyms with Descriptors

III. The Trees and the Forest: Sociological and Methodological Reflection
Chapter 16. The Sociology of Knowledge and Three Waves of Science Studies
Chapter 17. Methodological Reflection: On Going Native
Appendix 4. A Sociologist Tries to Do Some Physics

Acknowledgments
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Written in Harry Collins’s usual accessible and readable style, Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog makes for very entertaining reading.”