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Black Box Science

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a black box as anything that has mysterious or unknown internal functions or mechanisms. Science and the empirical method aspire to dissolve these black boxes and replace the unknown with facts, knowledge and understanding.  However, current scientific culture is in and of itself quite opaque - almost like a black box - with a focus on delivering polished results and highlighting straightforward, successful careers.  With an inspiring new video blog project entitled Black Box Science, CSSB group leader Rainer Kaufmann aims to shine a critical light on this scientific culture and start a discussion about the realities of everyday scientific life.

Using insights from his own experience as a junior group leader at CSSB, Rainer hopes that his project will provide young researchers with an honest glimpse into the real scientific world. “We have to talk about the fact that science is not always running in straight lines,” explains Rainer “By taking a self-critical view and talking openly about the challenges I have encountered and decisions I have made, I wish to dispel the overly idealistic view of science that exists today.”  In the first episode of Black Box Science which airs on 11 June, Rainer examines his decision making process for hiring new staff.

When not filming his next episode of Black Box Science, Rainer spends much of his time in the CSSB basement developing super-resolution fluorescence cryo-microscopes.  This new field of microscopy aims to combine super-resolution concepts with the benefits of cryo-immobilized samples. Rainer is also a W2 professor in the physics department at the University of Hamburg. His Black Box Science project is supported by the Volkswagen-Foundation.

Check out Black Box Science’s website https://blackboxscience.org/ and join the conversation on Twitter @KaufmannLab