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PONDERING THE IMPONDERABLES: The Biggest Questions of Cosmology

Saturday, June 3, 2017
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Physicists and cosmologists are closing in on how the universe operates at its very core. But even with powerful telescopes and particle accelerators pushed nearly to their limits, experimenters struggle to keep up as theoreticians march forward, leaving grand theories untested. Is our universe unique or one of many? What was there before the Big Bang? Why is there something rather than nothing? Some argue that if these deep questions can’t be confirmed empirically, they’re not relevant to science. Are they right? Join world-leading cosmologists, philosophers and physicists as they tackle the profound questions of existence.

The Big Ideas Series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.

Moderator

Jim HoltAuthor

Jim Holt is a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, where he has written on string theory, time, infinity, numbers, jokes, logic, truth, and bullsh*t. He also contributes regularly to The New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books.

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Participants

David Z. AlbertPhysicist, Philosopher

David Albert is the Frederick E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University and a physicist who explores quantum mechanics. He is world-renowned for his insights into philosophical questions about the nature of time, space, and other problems of modern physics.

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George F. R. EllisCosmologist

George Ellis is Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics at the University of Capetown and investigates cosmology, the nature of time, and the emergence of complexity. He is the co-author with Stephen Hawking of The Large Scale Structure of Space Time.

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Alan GuthCosmologist

Alan Guth is a professor of physics at MIT, and world-renowned for his discovery of inflationary cosmology, the dominant cosmological paradigm for over two decades. His current research focuses on developing mathematical tools for quantitatively analyzing inflation’s suggestion that there are an infinite number of universes.

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Veronika HubenyPhysicist

Veronika Hubeny is a theoretical physicist, currently a Professor in the Department of Physics at University of California, Davis. She is one of the founding members of the newly-formed Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP).

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Andrei LindeCosmologist

Andrei Linde is a professor of physics at Stanford University, one of the authors of the inflationary theory and the theory of inflationary multiverse. He invented the theory of chaotic inflation, which is the most general version of inflationary cosmology. Linde also helped to develop the theory of eternal chaotic inflation, and the mechanism of vacuum stabilization in string theory.

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Barry LoewerPhilosopher of Science

Barry Loewer is a philosopher of science currently teaching at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. He received a BA from Amherst College in philosophy and mathematics and a Ph.D. from Stanford. Loewer has also taught at Stanford, University of South Carolina, University of Michigan, and CEU in Budapest.

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