The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date

Written by Samuel Arbesman

Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing.

Samuel Arbesman shows us how knowledge in most fields evolves systematically and predictably, and how this evolution unfolds in a fascinating way that can have a powerful impact on our lives.

He takes us through a wide variety of fields, including those that change quickly, over the course of a few years, or over the span of centuries.

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Featured On Episode #224

The Half-Life of Facts

This week, guest host Marie-Claire Shanahan spends an hour exploring knowledge and certainty, and how they change over time. She’ll speak to Samuel Arbesman, applied mathematician and fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, about his book The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Khow Has an Expiration Date. And we’re joined by computer science and biology professor Mark Daley, to discuss the value of using computational thinking to better understand everything from biology to music.

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