How Advances in Science are Made

Lecture presented by: Professor Douglas Osheroff
Date: March 23, 2011
Location: Brno University of Technology, Brno, Czech Republic

The path along which science advances can be full of surprises.

In many cases, the chain of discoveries that lead us to a deeper understanding of the natural world is not always anticipated. Even technologies developed to investigate the mysteries of nature don’t always have an immediate application.

If there is any commonality to scientific discovery here in the 21st century, it’s this: scientific advances are seldom made by individuals alone. Rather, they result from people asking questions, developing new technologies to find answers, and sharing ideas. From this flow of information, “research strategies” evolve that help to increase the probability of success.

For this presentation, Professor Douglas Osheroff illustrated some of these strategies in the context of a number of well known discoveries, including the Nobel Prize-winning work he did as a graduate student in Physics.

Douglas Osheroff was born and raised in Aberdeen, Washington, a logging town in the Pacific Northwest. There he attended public schools. He did his undergraduate work at Caltech, receiving his B.S. in physics in 1967. His graduate work was done at Cornell University, where his Ph.D. thesis work resulted in the discovery of three superfluid phases of liquid 3He. These phases are neutral analogs to the superconductors, but with greater complexity in their order.

Brno University of Technology