Bee had submitted an essay titled At the Frontier of Knowledge.
In my eyes, it's a wonderful text but, well, I might be biased. But it also convinced the Jury: Out of more than 100 submissions, "At the Frontier of Knowledge" was awarded a second prize, shared with "On the impossibility of superluminal travel: the warp drive lesson" by Carlos Barcelo, Stefano Finazzi and Stefano Liberati. As the FQXi announcement explains:
The essay of Sabine attacks our presumption that anyone could answer the essay question, arguing that we can never know if we have hit a limit of scientific knowledge. Judges praised the witty and logical style and the author's creative questioning of the question.
At the Frontier of Knowledge
At any time, there are areas of science where we are standing at the frontier of knowledge, and can wonder whether we have reached a fundamental limit to human understanding. What is ultimately possible in physics? I will argue here that it is ultimately impossible to answer this question. For this, I will first distinguish three different reasons why the possibility of progress is doubted and offer examples for these cases. Based on this, one can then identify three reasons for why progress might indeed be impossible, and finally conclude that it is impossible to decide which case we are facing.
(continue reading the PDF file of the essay)