The Discovery Paradox

Gadi Rothenberg
University of Amsterdam
Scientific and technological discovery have been all the rage for the past two centuries. They have changed the lives of people all over the world, by providing food, shelter, medicines and entertainment on a scale that was unimagineable before them. Moreover, the nature of discovery has fired up the curiosity and enthusiasm of many generations of scientists – look at (nearly) all the students coming to this year’s PAC-Symposium for example. But there is a catch, a paradox: We’re using scientific methods in our quest for discovery, but is this the right way to go about it? Can you really find something new by looking for it in a structured manner? Or is our quest hopeless? Maybe we’ll know the answers by the end of my lecture.

Gadi Rothenberg received his BSc in Chemistry magna cum laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel in 1993, and his PhD in Applied Chemistry summa cum laude from the same university in 1999. He then worked as a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of York before moving to the University of Amsterdam in 2001. Since 2008 he is Professor and Chair of Heterogeneous Catalysis & Sustainable Chemistry. Rothenberg teaches courses on catalysis, thermodynamics and scientific writing. He has published two books and over 180 papers in peer-reviewed journals. His textbook “Catalysis: Concepts & Green Applications” is a Wiley-VCH bestseller. He has also invented 16 patents, and co-founded three companies. Recently, he was appointed as Senior Visiting Fellow at Fudan University in Shanghai.


Prof. dr. Gadi Rothenberg

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