The Half-Life of Facts

Agnieszka Kurant | Poland, 2017

The Half-Life of Facts

How do facts decay over time as we uncover new information?

In elemental science, the half-life of a substance is the time it takes for half of it to decay. In this piece, artist Agnieszka Kurant examines the half-life of knowledge: the amount of time that has to elapse before half of the knowledge or facts in a particular area is superseded or shown to be untrue. Facts can change: we all believed Pluto was a planet until it was demoted in 2006. The first periodic table depicts fictional minerals and elements with a short description of their source and impact; the second panel depicts a selection of common misconceptions and urban legends that have had an actual impact on economics or politics.


Agnieszka Kurant’s recent exhibitions include the Istanbul Biennial, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud; The Age of You at the MOCA Toronto, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar, and Milano Triennale, curated by MoMa curator Paola Antonelli. In 2019, she was awarded the Frontier Art Prize. She is an artist-in-residence at MIT CAST, and a fellow of the Berggruen Institute and the Smithsonian Institute.

Instagram: @agnieszka.kurant