Sabine Hossenfelder: a physicist explains things

I just discovered Sabine Hossenfelder, a German physicist who makes great youtube explainers of all kinds of things. She’s got a dry sense of humor, and presents the facts in a straightforward yet engaging way.

Currently watching:

Best quote:

I’d like to propose that it is cheese that collapses the wave function. Prove me wrong!


Hossenfelder is an amazing scientist and is extremely knowledgable both in her fields of speciality and of the workings of the scientific community itself!

I’ve enjoyed her lectures as well.
But notice how no new experiments were proposed? Ones that would shake up the current paradigm?

In large part it’s because humans have run into the limits of practical technologies to probe way more deeply into the nature of particles/waves.

Brian Greene,, a well known physicist who has written several popular books about physics, wrote in his book “The Hidden Reality” that to probe and do experiments that could validate String Theory, the particle accelerators would have to be the size of our galaxy, (probably more nuts and bolts than is carried in the local hardware store. “But we can put them on order for you…”).

At a conference a few years ago, physicists got into serious debating and arguments about whether observational experiments were becoming outdated and whether relying on Bayesian models were sufficient to declare some theories as “proven.” Weird stuff for the hard science crowd.

Physics is great and important. And I’ll go with Anapanasati… :slightly_smiling_face:


For once I am ahead of you! Ah, the delight! In any case, welcome on board.


Mmm… the video was too difficult for me but the term ‘wave function’ reminded me of ‘vedana’ (‘feelings’ arising from ‘impacts’). MN 43 & other suttas say consciousness is co-joined or dependently arisen therefore I seems consciousness is not a primary consideration in the Buddha-Dhamma. In AN 3.61, the Buddha said: “It is for those who feel I teachings the Four Noble Truths”. Buddha does not say: “It is for those who have consciousness I teach the Four Noble Truths”. The video inspired me to view consciousness as a secondary rather than primary process. :dizzy:

I had been following her since before she was good in doing YouTube videos. Mainly i think because I am from physics background.

Her blog was the first contact for me, many years before she got into YouTube.

This discussion is very interesting to map to the dhamma too. Which nothingness level is which attainments in meditation.


Thanks for that:

She talks a lot of sense. Perhaps I can use the cheese line in my course next year… :rofl:

Yes, well of course that’s difficult, and takes time. It was almost three decades after Einstein’s 1930s paper that Bell realised that Einstein was overlooking something testable about local hidden variable theories, and the Nobel Prize for the experimental tests has only just been awarded. Those experiments could have shaken up the paradigm, but it turned out that they continue to agree with quantum mechanics not local hidden variable theories.

It’s not my area, but Bayesian approaches is what everyone seems to use in astrophysics these days. Obviously one can’t do controlled experiments on stars or the universe…


Sure you can.
General Relativity was confirmed experimentally via direct observation of the degree of the warping of light around a star during a solar eclipse, which corresponded to the earlier predictions made with Einstein’s equations.

The issue with using Bayesian models in particle physics is the “fuzziness” of the predictive probabilities and in using them to then build accurate models and testable theories, compared to current observational experiments which generally use a cut-off of 5 sigma for statistical validation, (meaning a roughly 1 in 2 - 3,000,000 chance that a result is a fluke).

And…back to the mat for me. :slightly_smiling_face: :pray:

Perhaps I wasn’t clear. In astrophysics it’s generally not possible to set up a controlled experiment like we can in a laboratory, where we can turn things on and off, or start with different initial conditions. We only have one universe available for measurements of the microwave background, distance-speed relationship of galaxies, and so on. There are, of course, similar issues with aspects of geology and biology.


And rebirth evidences.

When people ask for lab experiments for rebirth cases… I tell them about cosmology, biology, planetology, etc.


I didn’t understand everything, but I did get the cheese joke!


Her video about multiverses is good, too. The concept has been turned into a giant literary device by authors to explore characters, which as a thing has been pretty interesting at times, but it’s been getting out of hand like the zombie apocalypse stories. I really think specialists who talk to the general public do an immense service. They help keep everyone grounded, both the specialists and the public.


Indeed, and I think we underestimate the extent to which physicists also are telling stories. The facts and the data are there, but they have to describe them in ways that make sense and are compelling, which is, well, a story. Nothing wrong with that, so long as we remember that the story isn’t the science.