Transcending Matter: Physics and Ultimate Meaning

Transcending Matter: Physics and Ultimate Meaning

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by The Nour Foundation, The New York Academy of Sciences, and Wisconsin Public Radio's nationally-syndicated program To the Best of Our Knowledge

 

Video of the full event is available on the Nour Foundation's YouTube channel.

From the discovery of new galaxies and nearly undetectable dark energy to the quantum entanglement of particles across the universe, new findings in physics naturally elicit a sense of awe and wonder. For the founders of modern physics — from Einstein and Bohr to Heisenberg, Pauli, and Bohm — a fascination with deeper questions of meaning and ultimate reality led some of them to explore esoteric traditions and metaphysics. More recently, however, physicists have largely shunned such philosophical and spiritual associations. What can contemporary physics offer us in the quest to understand our place in the universe? Has physics in some ways become a religion unto itself that rejects the search for existential meaning?

*Reception to follow.

Featuring

Adam Frank, PhD

Professor of Astrophysics, University of Rochester
Co-founder of NPR science blog 13.7 Cosmos & Culture
Author of "About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang" and "The Constant Fire. Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate"

David Kaiser, PhD

Professor of the History of Science and Head of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Author of "How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival"

Tim Maudlin, PhD

Professor of Philosophy, New York University
Author of "The Metaphysics within Physics and Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time"

Priyamvada Natarajan, PhD

Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Yale University

Moderator

Steve Paulson

Executive Producer, Wisconsin Public Radio's nationally-syndicated program To the Best of Our Knowledge

Registration — Series Pricing

Member$10
Member (Student / Postdoc / Resident / Fellow)$10
Nonmember$40
Nonmember (Student / Postdoc / Resident / Fellow)$15


Presented by

  • The New York Academy of Sciences
  • Nour Foundation
  • To the Best of Our Knowledge

 

Media Sponsor

 


This event is part of the Beyond the Big Bang series.

Moderated by Wisconsin Public Radio's Steve Paulson, this intriguing three-part series brings together leading physicists, philosophers, historians, and writers to explore the multiple scientific and philosophical dimensions suggested by modern physics, including how recent discoveries are impacting our enduring search for meaning in the universe.

To learn more about each lecture and to purchase tickets, click on the links below.

 

Speakers

Featuring

Adam Frank, PhD

Professor of Astrophysics, University of Rochester
Co-founder of NPR science blog 13.7 Cosmos & Culture
Author of "About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang" and "The Constant Fire. Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate"

Adam Frank is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. A professor at the University of Rochester, Frank is a theoretical/computational astrophysicist and currently heads a research group developing supercomputer code to study the formation and death of stars. Frank's research has also explored the evolution of newly born planets and the structure of clouds in the interstellar medium. Recently, he has begun work in the fields of astrobiology and network theory/data science. Frank also holds a joint appointment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy fusion lab.

Frank is the author of two books: The Constant Fire, Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate (University of California Press, 2010), which was one of SEED magazine's "Best Picks of The Year," and About Time, Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang (Free Press, 2011). He has contributed to The New York Times and magazines such as Discover, Scientific American and Tricycle.

Frank's work has also appeared in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009. In 1999 he was awarded an American Astronomical Society prize for his science writing.

David Kaiser, PhD

Professor of the History of Science and Head of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Author of "How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival"

David Kaiser is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and Department Head of MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and also a member of MIT's Department of Physics. His books include "Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics" (2005), and "How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival" (2011). A Fellow of the American Physical Society and recipient of the Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society for best book in the field, Kaiser has also received MIT's highest awards for excellence in teaching. His work has been featured in Science, Nature, the New York Times, Scientific American, the London Review of Books, and the Huffington Post, as well as on NOVA television programs, NPR, and the BBC. He is currently writing two books about gravity: a textbook, with his colleague Alan Guth, on gravitation and cosmology, and a history of research on general relativity over the twentieth century.

Tim Maudlin, PhD

Professor of Philosophy, New York University
Author of "The Metaphysics within Physics and Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time"

Tim Maudlin is Professor of Philosophy at New York University. He received his BA in Physics and Philosophy from Yale and his PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh. His work centers on the interpretation of physical theory: how the mathematical structures used in physics may be understood as presenting a physical account of the world. His most recent books are "Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time" and "New Foundations for Physical Geometry". He is a Guggenheim fellow, and a member of the Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences.

Priyamvada Natarajan, PhD

Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Yale University

Priya Natarajan is a cosmologist and theoretical astrophysicist at Yale University. In addition to this, she also holds the Sophie and Tycho Brahe Professorship at the Dark Center, Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark and a lifetime appointment as an Honorary Professor at the University of Delhi, India.

Natarajan is a theoretical astrophysicist interested in cosmology, gravitational lensing and black hole physics. Her research is focused on exotica in the Universe — dark matter, dark energy, and black holes. She is noted for her key contributions to two of the most challenging problems in cosmology:  mapping the distribution of dark matter and tracing the growth history of black holes. Her research work has been featured in Science, Nature, The New Yorker, BBC, NPR, CNN, and many other media outlets, newspapers and magazines around the world. Natarajan is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Explorers Club. The recipient of many awards and honors that include a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship, National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers Fellowship, the Caroline Herschel Award, JILA Fellowship, and the Face of the Future Award, she was also the first woman in Astrophysics to be elected a Title A Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Deeply invested in the public dissemination of science, a fervent proponent of numerical literacy, she is also a published poet. She is the author of a forthcoming book from Yale Press on the acceptance of radical scientific ideas in cosmology and has written for CNN, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and the New York Review of Books.

Moderator

Steve Paulson

Executive Producer, Wisconsin Public Radio's nationally-syndicated program To the Best of Our Knowledge.

Steve Paulson is the executive producer and an interviewer with To the Best of Our Knowledge, the Peabody Award-winning radio program produced at Wisconsin Public Radio and syndicated nationally by Public Radio International. Paulson has written for Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher EducationThe Independent and other publications. His radio reports have also been broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. His recent book, "Atoms and Eden: Conversations on Religion and Science," was published by Oxford University Press.

Travel & Lodging

Our Location

The New York Academy of Sciences

7 World Trade Center
250 Greenwich Street, 40th floor
New York, NY 10007-2157
212.298.8600

Directions to the Academy

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