Les ânes égarés de la science

CAMBRIDGE – L’histoire de Saül dans la Bible, qui a trouvé son royaume par hasard, alors qu’il cherchait les ânes égarés de son père, offre une grande leçon aux scientifiques. Au lieu de définir trop étroitement les objectifs de recherche, il faudrait au contraire nous ouvrir aux découvertes complètement différentes et beaucoup plus porteuses qui pourraient poindre en dehors de notre champ de vision.

Arno Penzias et Robert Wilson ont fait ce type de découverte fortuite en 1965, alors qu’ils cherchaient à réduire le bruit ambiant de leur prototype d’antenne radio qui leur a permis de déceler les micro-ondes qui se déplacent en filigrane dans le cosmos. Ils ont ainsi remarqué un bruit de fond, qui s’est avéré être le reliquat du rayonnement cosmique créé par le big-bang. Cette formidable découverte qui a changé les fondements de la théorie de l’univers s’est produite dans les laboratoires de la société Bell et non dans un pôle de recherche d’une université de pointe

La construction de nouveaux ensembles de données est essentielle au progrès scientifique. Les données jouent un rôle prépondérant pour faire cheminer les scientifiques vers de nouvelles découvertes et solutions, ainsi que pour les nouvelles interrogations auxquelles on doit apporter des réponses, condamnant du même coup le processus scientifique à rester honnête et dynamique. De longues périodes de disette sur le plan de nouvelles données empiriques facilitent, voire favorisent, la croissance effrénée des bulles théoriques spéculatives.

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