My high school classmate Alan Entenberg, who is a physics professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, has invited me to give two presentations there on Tuesday 4/28/09 based on my book Physics: Decade by Decade. As of yesterday, the lecture hall was still TBD, but it will likely be in the Imaging Center. Contact Alan or me if you would like to attend. Read on for details.
“From the Clockwork Universe to the Standard Model: The Unraveling and Reweaving of Physics in the 20th Century”
12:00 Noon – 12:50 PM
In the mid-1890s, physicists—scientists who study matter and energy—looked ahead to the 20th century with justifiable pride. The more they had studied the universe in the 19th century, the more orderly they had found it to be. Its behavior was thoroughly predictable through natural laws that they expressed in the precise language of mathematics. Though there were still a few important questions to be answered, most physicists were confident that the 20th century would be devoted to refining theories and making the critical measurements needed to complete the tapestry of their science.
They could not have been more wrong. Instead of tying up a few loose ends, physicists pulled on a few snags and watched the entire theoretical fabric of physics unravel. It would take most of the new century to reweave it. The process would redefine almost everything people thought they understood about matter and energy, space and time, and waves and particles.
“Ten Decades, Ten Physicists: A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century As Seen Through the Lives of Ten Outstanding Scientists”
2:00 PM – 3:50 PM
In writing Physics: Decade by Decade for the 20th-Century Science series (Facts On File, 2007), Dr. Bortz profiled one “Scientist of the Decade” in each chapter. The lives and contributions of these physicists (Albert Einstein, Ernest Rutherford, Wolfgang Pauli, Lise Meitner, Richard Feynman, John Bardeen, Murray Gell-Mann, Luis Alvarez, Stephen Hawking, and Leon Lederman) provide insight into how the development of physics and historical trends are interrelated. This presentation will share a few of the profiles in depth and touch on the others.
In addition, I am scheduled for a 90-minute presentation of the second talk at Rush Henrietta High School the next morning. If you know students who are likely to attend, you may want to discuss this with them.