Northwestern Events Calendar


SHC Klopsteg Lecture: DAVID KAISER

When: Monday, April 25, 2016
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM  

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum Room, UH 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students


Contact: Natasha O Dennison   847.491.3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program

Category: Academic


DAVID KAISER: Program in Science, Technology, and Society, MIT

"Cold War Curvature: Measuring and Modeling Gravity in Postwar American Physics"

Description: 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. His most enduring scientific legacy, the general theory of relativity -- physicists' reigning explanation of 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? By focusing on two examples of research on general relativity from the 1950s and 1960s -- the Shapiro time-delay test and early efforts in numerical relativity -- this lecture will examine some of the ways in which research on Einstein's theory was embedded in, and at times engulfed by, the tumult of world politics.

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

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