A New Kind of Scientific Visualization, Taking Snapshots from inside the Black Box

AKSB 903, Beirut campus

The Department of Humanities is hosting a lecture by Mike Stuart titled: “A New Kind of Scientific Visualization: Taking Snapshots from inside the Black Box”.

There are several kinds of relationship that can obtain between a model and a diagram in science. A model might be represented by a diagram, or inspired by a diagram. A model could also be functionally equivalent to a diagram. In this lecture, we want to introduce a new kind of relationship between model and diagram that we have observed in an ethnographic study of a biology laboratory recently performed. This relationship concerns diagrams that are direct causal results of a model. The reason scientists have developed this sort of diagram is in response to an epistemological problem: the epistemic opacity of computer models. Computational systems biologists can design, create and operate their own computational models of biological systems, but they have difficulty evaluating the veracity of models created by others, and explaining the content, functioning and epistemological quality of their own models. This is an epistemological problem, not concerning the knowledge that computer models provide in biology, but concerning the amount of understanding they provide. In this talk, I will show how the new kind of visualization can radically increase biological understanding of the content, strength, and epistemological worth of computer models.

Mike Stuart is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the London School of Economics.