LIGO COURTROOM DRAMA: Trial Part 5

(continued from previous post)

TRIAL PART 5

ON THE WITNESS STAND: Edward Witten (for the Defendants)

VINO MOSCATO (Attorney for the Defendants): Good Morning, Professor Witten! Your reputation precedes you. You have been described as the smartest man on the planet; as someone posssessing the mind of god; as a time traveler from future; as a peer to such physics greats as Lorentz. When you speak, the world listens. What is your opinion of the LIGO discovery?

EDWARD WITTEN: I have endorsed the discovery. As the Chair of the Award Committee for the Breakthrough Prize, I recommended the $3 million Prize for LIGO.

MOSCATO: Have you recommended LIGO for any other prizes?

WITTEN: Many such recommendations are done in confidence. So I cannot answer that question.

MOSCATO: OK, let me put the question in another way: Are there any doubts in your mind about the LIGO discovery being correct?

WITTEN: None whatsoever.

MOSCATO: Thank you, Professor Witten. You have spoken, and the jury has listened. Your witness, Ms. Veritas.

ASSUMPTA VERITAS (Attorney for the Plainfiffs): Good Morning, Professor Witten. Would you describe for the jury in very simple terms what LIGO is?

WITTEN: LIGO is a very advanced scientific instrument for detecting something called gravitational wave. It has been described as mankind’s highest achievement in measurement science.

VERITAS: Thank you. You used two descriptions: scientific instrument and measurement science. What is your background in scientific instrumentation?

WITTEN: I do not have any background in scientific instrumentation.

VERITAS: And what is your background in measurement science?

WITTEN: I do not have any background in measurement science.

VERITAS: So, on what basis do you certify that the LIGO discovery is correct beyond a shadow of doubt?

WITTEN: In such matters we scientists trust our colleagues to have done things right. The LIGO scientists have the highest competence. They have said they have observed gravitational waves, and I believe they have.

VERITAS: Trust. Belief. Are these the basis for evaluation of a scientific discovery?

WITTEN: You do not understand how science works.

VERITAS: OK, fine. But is it correct to say that you do not personally have the necessary expertise to certify anything about LIGO?

WITTEN: I am a String Theorist.

VERITAS: Answer my question please. Do you personally have the scientific qualification to certify LIGO? Yes or No?

WITTEN: No.

VERITAS: And all this business about mind of god and time traveling – do they have anything to do with the correctness of the LIGO discovery? Yes or No?

WITTEN: No.

VERITAS: I have no further questions for this witness, Your Honor.

ASHA SOLOMON (Judge): The witness is excused.

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