• Physics

  • Events 

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

    Did Einstein Kill Schrödinger's Cat? A Quantum State of Mind

    Featuring: Daniel Harlow (Harvard University Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature), Scott Aaronson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Brian Swingle (Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics)
    Moderator: George Musser (Spooky Action at a Distance)

    Recent research suggests that quantum information and entanglement of quantum states—a term coined by Schrödinger to describe "spooky action at a distance" between quantum particles in his letters to Einstein in which he also proposed his famous thought experiment, Schrödinger's cat, to illustrate quantum superposition—may be key to understanding quantum gravity, one of the greatest unsolved problems of modern physics. Physicists are now wrestling with another paradox thought experiment that describes the fate of quantum states at the event horizon of a black hole and may upend some of the time-tested fundamental theories. This panel will discuss the fascinating interplay between two great theories of the 20th century—quantum theory and general relativity—and how these phenomena may be exploited, from black holes to quantum computing.

  • Past Events

    Monday, June 13, 2016 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

    Are We Alone in the Universe?

    Featuring: Adam Frank (University of Rochester), Louisa Preston (astrobiologist and author), Jason Thomas Wright (Pennsylvania State University), and Stephen M. Gardiner (University of Washington)
    Moderator: Ira Flatow (PRI's Science Friday®)

    The Fermi Paradox—the apparent contradiction between the high probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of contact with such civilizations—continues to captivate our minds. Join our panel of leading physicists and philosophers as they explore the question: "Where is everybody?" as well as other questions: How does scientific knowledge direct our future scientific and technological pursuits on Earth and in space? How does science inform human ethics? Does science make us better citizens of the universe?

    Monday, May 23, 2016 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

    The Rise of Human Consciousness

    Featuring: David Chalmers (Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness, New York University), Michael Graziano (Princeton University), Hod Lipson (Columbia University) and Max Tegmark (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
    Moderator: George Musser (Spooky Action at a Distance)

    Advances in physical and information sciences, biology, and neuroscience have dramatically enhanced our knowledge of the human species. But can physical sciences solve the biggest mystery—the emergence of human consciousness? Join our panel to explore this question and its implications.

    Monday, May 9, 2016 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

    Complexity: A Science of the Future?

    Featuring: Bernard Chazelle (The Discrepancy Method: Randomness and Complexity), Marcelo Gleiser (A Tear at the Edge of Creation), and Geoffrey West (Santa Fe Institute)
    Moderator: George Musser (Spooky Action at a Distance)

    The advent of sophisticated computer technology has allowed studies of complex systems such as cell colonies, neurons in the brain, the immune system, economic markets, and social groups. In complex systems, simple, nonlinear interactions are iterated over time and give rise to self-organization, evolution, learning, and adaptation—phenomena that eluded explanation until now. This panel, including selected physicists, will explore whether studies of complexity complement traditional physics or may upend science as we know it.

    Monday, April 25, 2016 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

    Where Do Physics and Philosophy Intersect?

    Featuring: David Z. Albert (Columbia University), Hans Halvorson (Princeton University), and Jim Holt (Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story)
    Moderator: Kate Becker (The Visible Universe)

    At its core, physics addresses the fundamental problems that shape our philosophical outlook. Join our distinguished panel including writer Jim Holt, philosopher David Z. Albert, and science writer Kate Becker in a dialogue that explores the philosophical meaning of the theories of modern physics—including quantum field theory, cosmology, and quantum gravity—and considers the ability of physics as a scientific discipline to answer the question: how can it be like that?

  • Publications 


    Beyond the Big Bang: Searching for Meaning in Contemporary Physics

    Edited by Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences editorial staff

    This Annals volume presents papers from a three-part series, in collaboration with the Nour Foundation, on the relevance of modern-day physics to perennial questions confronting human existence.

    Volume 1361


    Annals Reports

    Edited by Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences editorial staff

    This Annals volume presents discussions ofnutrition and the science of disease prevention; designing optogenetically controlled RNA for regulating biological systems; and how ion channels sense mechanical force

    Volume 1352


    Flow of Time

    Edited by Dean Rickles and Maria Kon (University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

    This Annals volume explores the nature of time's passage from a variety of perspectives, including from mathematics and physics to linguistics and cognitive science.

    Volume 1326


    Black Holes and Astrobiology

    Speaker: Caleb Scharf (Columbia University)

    This eBriefing documents a presentation by Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University, who described the latest science on black holes and gave an update on the search for life on other planets.