Einstein's Legacy: Studying Gravity in War and Peace
Museum of the Rockies, Hager Auditorium
A popular image persists of Albert Einstein as a loner, someone who avoided the hustle and bustle of everyday life in favor of quiet contemplation. Yet Einstein was deeply engaged with politics throughout his life; indeed, he was so active politically that the FBI kept him under surveillance for decades, compiling a 2000-page secret file on his political activities. His most enduring scientific legacy, the general theory of relativity 'physicists' reigning explanation for gravity and the basis for nearly all our thinking about the cosmos has likewise been cast as an austere temple standing aloof from the all-too-human dramas of political history. But was it so?
In this talk, David Kaiser, Germeshausen Professor and Department Head of MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, examines ways in which research on general relativity was embedded in, and at times engulfed by, the tumult of world politics over the course of the twentieth century. Kaiser's 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, Scientific American, the London Review of Books, and the Huffington Post, as well as on NOVA television programs, NPR, and the BBC.
This public talk is part of the Celebrating Einstein event
Astronomy Winter Lecture Series: Dr. David Kaiser, Germeshausen Professor, MIT, examines ways in which research on general relativity was embedded in, and at times engulfed by, the tumult of world politics over the course of the 20th century.
Doors open at 6:30.
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