How much do we take "on faith" in our everyday lives? This question arose in my mind yesterday as I sat through a colleague's talk in my research group's meeting. He was talking about a phenomenon which has been named "optical bullets," and I began to wonder why these are scientifically interesting. The talk in question is to be delivered at the upcoming meeting for the American Physics Society's Division of Plasma Physics. Though I wondered about the importance of optical bullets, I next came to realize that they must be interesting if for no other reason than that Professor Downer was interested in them. In other words, I can place trust in their importance, because a prominent member of the scientific community is also interested in them.
It is certainly true that I could go and verify the importance of optical bullets for myself. I am, after all, and expert-in-training in this field. I very likely will do so, though this is the first time I've heard of these optical bullets, and so I haven't really had the chance to think them over just yet, because another thought immediately followed after all of this musing. Put simply, I realized that although I could go and verify the importance of optical bullets for myself, there are plenty of people who cannot, and ever more people who won't.
Read the rest on the Nicene Guys site.