Fundamentals (Part I)
November 11 and November 12, 2010. Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecture. Cosponsored by the Center for Theoretical Physics. (Note: November 11 at 8 p.m. in McCosh 50; November 12 at 4:30 p.m. in McCosh 50)
This is a two-part lecture series. Modern science is constantly enriched by new discoveries and occasionally rocked by revolutions, but some fundamental conclusions, which answer questions traditionally assigned to philosophy, now seem secure. These lectures cover ten such fundamentals, presenting each in the context of (once) plausible alternatives. The discussion will bring in many interesting “case studies.” 1. We perceive a tiny portion of reality. 2. The physical world is comprehensible. 3. The basic laws are mathematical. 4. The basic laws are local. 5. The basic laws predict probabilities. 6. The world is a very big place. 7. The world is a very old place. 8. The state of the universe is comprehensible. 9. Vast opportunities are presently unexploited. 10. There’s still plenty we don’t understand.
Frank Wilczek is currently the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wilczek, along with David Gross and H. David Politzer, won the 2004 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of asymptotic freedom. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he earned his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. He has been a faculty member at Princeton, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of California, Santa Barbara Institute for Theoretical Physics.