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Professor Shaun Hendy



University of Auckland, New Zealand

Professor Shaun Hendy is the Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini, a New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence hosted by the University of Auckland. Te Pūnaha Matatini is a national research network that uses methods from complex systems to solve problems for business and to develop better economic and environmental policies. Shaun teaches in both the Department of Physics and the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland, and has a range of interests, including materials science, the economics of innovation, and science communication. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and in 2013 he was awarded the E. O. Tuck medal for research in applied mathematics. In 2012, Shaun was awarded the Callaghan Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize for his work as a science communicator.

Is Gravity a Social Construct?


Are scientific theories objective or do they depend on the eye of the beholder? Most people would agree that gravity affects our lives in more-or-less the same way, no matter who you are. But what about the science of gravity – might the validity of science depend on who you are or what culture you come from? Newton believed that gravity is a force, while Einstein showed that gravity isn’t. Einstein believed that gravity is a side effect of curved space-time, but quantum mechanics tells us that space-time doesn’t exist. All scientific theories are wrong in some way, but some are useful. How useful a theory is does indeed depend on who you are. Understanding this is important for how we do science and how we should make use of scientific knowledge.
Emergin infectious diseases with Associate Professor Gavin Smith

Watch Professor Shaun Hendy’s Sci21 webcast, Is Gravity a Social Construct