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New York Public Lecture Series Goes ‘Beyond the Big Bang’ to Search for Meaning in Contemporary Physics

Join the Nour Foundation, the New York Academy of Sciences, and Wisconsin Public Radio's nationally-syndicated program To the Best of Our Knowledge for a three-part series that explores the human significance of new discoveries in physics.

Published October 01, 2014

NEW YORK, October 1, 2014 - Perhaps more than any other scientific discipline, modern physics has revolutionized our understanding of the universe by tackling a number of age-old existential questions about the origins of the cosmos, Earth, and life as we know it. While new discoveries have pushed us to the frontiers of science, they have also raised fundamental questions regarding what physics can ultimately reveal about the nature of our reality.

Supported by the Beyond the Big Bang: Searching for Meaning in Contemporary Physics, with the first lecture on October 14.

These discussions, moderated by Steve Paulson of TTBOOK, will bring together leading physicists, philosophers, historians, and writers to explore the multiple scientific and philosophical dimensions suggested by modern physics, with an emphasis on understanding how recent scientific advances impact our enduring search for meaning.

"We're living in a golden age of physics," says Paulson.  "But for all that we've learned, we're still grappling with profound existential questions:  How did the universe begin?  Will science ever reveal the fabric of reality? These aren't just scientific questions; they're also philosophical. How we talk about these big ideas goes a long way toward shaping our underlying values and assumptions about our place in the cosmos.  That's why I'm so excited about bringing together this distinguished group."

This year's series includes:

Tuesday October 14, 2014, 7-8.30pm

Even in the age of modern physics, great mysteries still surround the origins and existence of the universe. Physicist Neil Turok, philosopher of physics David Albert, and writer and philosopher Jim Holt discuss the most basic existential question of all: Why are we here?

Wednesday December 10, 2014, 7-8.30pm

A "theory of everything" has thus far eluded physicists seeking to unify the laws of the universe. Physicists Katherine Freese, Marcelo Gleiser, Lee Smolin, and Max Tegmark debate whether there are scientific and human limits to our knowledge, and how to approach theories that cannot be empirically tested.

Wednesday February 4, 2015, 7-8.30pm

New discoveries in physics elicit a sense of wonder and often lead to a desire for deeper meaning. Astrophysicists Adam Frank and Priyamvada Natarajan, historian of science David Kaiser, and philosopher of physics Tim Maudlin share their thoughts on what contemporary physics can offer in the quest to understand our place in the universe.

For more information on Beyond the Big Bang visit:

For press inquiries, including press passes to the events, please contact Stacy-Ann Ashley (; 212-298-8696).

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About the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 22,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large.

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About the Nour Foundation

The Nour Foundation is a public charitable and nongovernmental organization in special consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Founded in 1985, the Foundation adopts a multidisciplinary and integrative approach to exploring expressions of meaning and commonality in human experience, with the aim of engendering a greater spirit of unity, tolerance, and understanding among human beings worldwide. Please visit us online at

About To the Best of Our Knowledge

To the Best of Our Knowledge is a Peabody Award-winning radio show produced at Wisconsin Public Radio and syndicated by Public Radio International. Each week TTBOOK cracks open the world of ideas, featuring in-depth interviews with renowned scientists, writers, artists, scholars, and visionaries. Please visit us online at