Sabine Hossenfelder

German theoretical physicist

Sabine Hossenfelder (born September 18, 1976) is a German theoretical physicist, blogger, and author of the 2018 book Lost in Math.

Sabine Hossenfelder (2017)


  • If you want to rely on non-empirical assessment, you have to make really sure that scientists’ judgment is as objective as humanly possible. And the environment in academia presently is absolutely unsuitable for this. You just can’t be sure how much sociology affects judgment. And no physicist I know makes any effort to consciously address cognitive biases, such as wishful thinking, loss aversion, or the use of aesthetic criteria. It’s just not something that they pay attention to because it’s never been necessary before. As long as you have data for guidance, you’ll be swiftly corrected.
  • To make predictions with inflation one cannot just say “there once was exponential expansion and it ended somehow.” No, to be able to calculate something, one needs a mathematical model. The current models for inflation work by introducing a new field – the “inflaton” – and give this field a potential energy. The potential energy depends on various parameters. And these parameters can then be related to observations. The scientific approach to the situation would be to choose a model, determine the parameters that best fit observations, and then revise the model as necessary – ie, as new data comes in. But that’s not what cosmologists presently do. Instead, they have produced so many variants of models that they can now “predict” pretty much anything that might be measured in the foreseeable future.

Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray (2018)

  • In our search for new ideas, beauty plays many roles. It's a guide, a reward, a motivation. It's also a systematic bias.
    • Lost in Math (Section Physics Envy, Chapter 1 The Hidden Rules of Physics)
  • The Standard Model is based on a principle called "gauge symmetry". According to this principle, every particle has a direction in an internal space, much like the needle in a compass, except that the needle doesn't point anywhere you can look.
"What the heck is an internal space?" you ask. Good question. The best answer I have is "useful."
  • Lost in Math, Chapter 3, Section The Standard Model. Page 51, 2018 hardcover ed. ISBN: 978046094257
  • The logic of arguments from naturalness resembles the attempt to predict the plot of a long-running TV series. If the hero -- here, naturalness --is in a pickle, certainly he will survive, so something must happen to turn around a situation that looks bleak.
  • Lost in Math, Chapter 4, p. 78, 2018 hardcover ed.
  • if you pile up enough of it, even shit can look beautiful.
  • Lost in Math, Chapter 7, p. 169, 2020 paperback ed.
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