UNCERTAINTY. INTERPRETING THE PRESENT, FORESEEING THE FUTURE | THE EXHIBITION

The exhibition entitled Uncertainty is divided into seven thematic sections which lead the visitor to discover how the category of uncertainty intersects with the methods and models that science uses to help us to understand reality and to forecast natural and social phenomena. The tour starts with an area entitled Measuring Uncertainty. When at the turn of the 19th century the need arose to measure the world with ever greater accuracy, uncertainty broke onto the scene in the "exact" sciences and people start wondering how to evaluate it and to quantify it. Thus the search for precision also became an overcoming of error. The exhibition unfolds amid such iconic items as the silicon sphere used to redefine sample measurement units and the most sophisticated experimental apparatus in contemporary physics, for example one of the mirrors from the Virgo interferometer that made it possible to observe gravitational waves for the very first time.
 

In the section on The Logic of Chance, visitors discover how the first source of uncertainty in quantitative knowledge of the world is represented by the chance fluctuations that inevitably accompany natural phenomena. Over the centuries man has figured out, thanks to the theory of probabilities, that these fluctuations are described by mathematical laws and that chance can be dominated. On display visitors will find Galileo's writings on the game of dice, Bruno De Finetti’s work on the probability of football pool forecasts and the Bean Machine, an amusing instrument for visualising statistical uncertainties.

20th century physics has taught us that in the depths of reality there are Fundamental Uncertainties, which we explore in the exhibition's third section. The quantum revolution has pushed the description of probabilities to the level of the world's elementary constituent parts, demonstrating that there are margins of indetermination in nature that cannot be eliminated. A large immersive and interactive installation developed and produced with Dotdotdot involves the visitor in the world of particles through a metaphorical representation of the collapse of the wave function, one of the basic concepts of quantum mechanics.
 

Uncertainly primarily concerns the future. Especially if the systems who evolution over time we want to discover are subject to Chaos (in the scientific sense). The section devoted to this theme shows visitors how imperceptible initial uncertainties can lead to profoundly different results, limiting the temporal scope of our predictions. An immersive experience visualising chaotic movements goes hand in hand with an illustration of the techniques used in weather forecasting, an area of science and daily life dominated by chaos.

Daily life constantly exposes us to enormously complex situations and processes. Science has perfected increasingly sophisticated models and the necessary computing power to analyse these phenomena. In the section entitled Simulating and Forecasting, interactive installations developed and produced with Limiteazero allow the visitor to discover how to simulate an earthquake, how to model the spread of an epidemic and how to study climate change on a planet-wide scale. 

The data revolution has made a huge quantity of information available on almost every aspect of our social and personal lives. We are more or less wittingly in the hands of algorithms based on powerful statistical and IT instruments that seek to predict our conduct and to describe it in quantitative terms with varying degrees of uncertainty. In the section on People and Data, the visitor will be able to gain interactive experience of the way some of these profiling and recommendation algorithms work in an attempt to guess and steer our choices.
 

Nothing escapes uncertainty, not even the universe, in the sense of a whole. Thanks to the most recent observational evidence in the field of cosmology, the question on our universe's future has acquired a more solid scientific connotation but it is still unanswered. In the final section of the exhibition, entitled Cosmic Futures, a video projection will illustrate potential future scenarios for our universe, accompanying the visitor to the end of his journey.