In a new era of astronomy, we’re feeling for vibrations in space-time

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TRADITIONAL notions of data collection invoke the idea of empiricism, the notion that all knowledge comes from sensory experience. Today, we still refer to our work as empirical science, even though, at this point, there is often quite a distance between human sense-based experience and how data is collected. In both astronomy and physics, data collection typically involves complex equipment that is connected to extensive computer-based algorithms that convert the signals in the equipment into data that humans then analyse. Even so, we still treat this as a sensory process, with a heavy emphasis on what we can “eyeball” on…

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