In 1993, Per Bak met Stephen Gould during a colloquium dinner at Harvard University. Highly interested in Gould’s idea, Bak, the physicist, asked: - “Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a theory of punctuated equilibria?” To which Gould, the palaeontologist, replied: - “Punctuated equilibria is a theory.”
My name is Kobe Simoens. I am a Belgian PhD student with a Master’s degree in Physics and Astronomy and in Marine Biological Resources. I therefore understand both languages more than enough to know that scientists speak entirely different languages. While ‘interdisciplinarity’ is the buzzword of science today, I maintain a healthy scepticism. Science is interdisciplinary per definition. ‘Interdisciplinary science’ is therefore a meaningless pleonasm. The goal of my PhD project under the supervision of Sandro Azaele and Samir Suweis of the Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Physics and Daniele Iudicone of the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn is ambitious. Simply applying concepts of terrestrial ecology to the transient and dynamic oceanic environment has reached its obvious limits. My aim is to lay the foundations of a new theoretical framework to understand the role of the oceanic medium in shaping the ecological and evolutionary patterns of marine planktonic organisms. To this end, I will dabble in data analysis, modelling and mathematical theory, also enjoying all frustrations along the way. This project will require colouring outside the lines. Solid science is supported by philosophical activity. Current scientific culture neglects its own philosophical foundation with complete stagnation as a result. The lack of philosophy makes for bland and spineless science. Richard Feynman’s “The philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds” is therefore my anti-slogan. My mission is to give philosophical spice and spike to my everyday science.