Title: Measuring is knowing ...... or is it?

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Ir. Jacob T. Fokkema, Applied Physics, TU Delft

Date: Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Time: 16:00 – 16:30

Venue: Collegezaal D, EWI

Free Mest drink follows: 16:45 – 19:00, /Pub



It is a conventional wisdom that Measuring is Knowing. In fact it is one of the oldest dicta of the engineer. In general it is not true. You need a theory to convert your measurement into knowing.

The Earth sends out more signals and we monitor them from all sides. The last years we got
alarming messages: Global temperature rise, CO2 level and sea-level rise, etc. The numbers are
differently interpreted depending on the case where they are used. Although observations are
interpreted in their own right that does not mean that they can be understood together in an
extended context. What we need is an encompassing theory that hosts the complementary
input of the different observations as different aspects of the same “reality”. This would be
helpful in accessing the realistic state of our vulnerable Earth.

Where do we stand as responsible engineers and how do we formulate our challenge in our
expectation of a successful career in the present day economic situation? Is there still a way to


Jacob Tjeerd Fokkema received the degree in electrical engineering from the
polytechnic school of Leeuwarden in 1969 and M.Sc. degree in electrical engineering and the
Ph.D. degree in technical sciences from Delft University of Technology in 1976 and 1979,
respectively. In 1982, he was appointed as scientific staff member in the section of Applied
Geophysics of the present Department of Applied Earth Sciences. In 1993, he was appointed
Full Professor of Applied Geophysics at the Applied Earth Science Department and in 1995 he
accepted a co-appointment in geophysics at the Faculty of Applied Physics of Delft University
and in 2001 he was appointed as special professor of applied geophysics at the Free University
of Amsterdam. He is board member of directors of the research school Integrated Solid Earth
Sciences. He was Rector Magnificus of the TU Delft from 2002 till 2010. Since 2010 he is the
chairman of ALW of NWO and Professor of Applied Geophysics in TU Delft. His research
interests are inversion of acoustic and electromagnetic geophysical measurements.