In what many call a “golden age of cosmology”, astronomers can now observe the universe with unprecedented precision, resulting in spectacular progress in the search for the origin of the universe. Yet, for all the impressive progress, fundamental questions remain. What is the mysterious “dark energy” driving space to rapidly expand? What existed before the big bang? Is there an origin of time? Do we live in a multiverse?
Our audience joined Science Friday’s Ira Flatow in conversation with leading cosmologists Lawrence Krauss, Paul Steinhardt, and Lyman Page, and historian of science Helge Kragh as they discussed and debated new advances that are shaping our understanding of the cosmic order and our place within it.
This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.
Ira Flatow is the host of Science Friday on PRI, Public Radio International. He anchors the show each Friday, bringing radio and Internet listeners world wide a lively, informative discussion on science, technology, health, space and the environment. Ira is president of ScienceFriday, Inc. and founder and president of Science Friday Initiative, a non-profit company dedicated to creating audio, video and Internet projects that make science a topic of discussion around the dinner table, Twitter or Facebook. Flatow has shared his enthusiasm with public radio and TV fans for more than 35 years. His most recent book is entitled Present At The Future. His numerous TV credits include six years as host and writer for the Emmy-award-winning Newton’s Apple on PBS and science reporter for CBS This Morning. He wrote, produced and hosted Transistorized!, an hour-long PBS documentary. He is also host of the four-part PBS series Big Ideas. A winner of numerous awards, his most recent the Isaac Asimov Award.
Helge Kragh is a leading science historian whose research focuses on the history of cosmology. He is the author of several books including, Cosmology and Controversy and Conceptions of the Cosmos. Kragh is a professor in the History of Science Department at the University of Aarhus in Denmark.
Lawrence Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist and best-selling author. His research focuses on the intersection of cosmology and elementary particle physics. Krauss’s work addresses questions about the origin of matter in the universe, Einstein’s theory of general relativity, astrophysics, the future of the universe, and the properties and description of the dark energy that is thought to account for most of the universe’s present energy content. A fervent advocate for science literacy, Lawrence Krauss has written nine books for a general audience, including the bestseller The Physics of Star Trek, and most recently A Universe from Nothing. He was recently awarded the National Science Board’s Public Service Award for his contributions to public understanding of science. Krauss is foundation professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of the ASU Origins Project at Arizona State University.
Physicist Lyman Page measures the cosmic microwave background radiation left over from the Big Bang to better understand the very early universe and how it has since evolved. He is the Henry DeWolf Smyth Professor of Physics at Princeton University.
Paul J. Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor in Science and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University, where he is also on the faculty of both the Department of Physics and the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. He received his B.S. in Physics at Caltech in 1974; his M.A. in Physics in 1975 and Ph.D. in Physics in 1978 at Harvard University. He was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows from 1978-81 and on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania from 1981-98, where he was Mary Amanda Wood Professor from 1989-98. He is a Fellow in the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He shared the P.A.M. Dirac Medal from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in 2002 for his role as one of the architects of the inflationary model of the universe; the Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society in 2010 for his contribution to the theory of quasicrystals; and the John Scott Award in 2012 for his work on quasicrystals, including the discovery of the first natural quasicrystal. In 2012, he was named Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics; Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard; and Moore Fellow at Caltech. He is the author of over 200 refereed articles, 100 reviews and popular articles, nine patents, four patents pending, three technical books, numerous popular articles, and, in 2007, co-authored Endless Universe: The Big Bang and Beyond, a popular book on contemporary theories of cosmology. He is one of the co-discoverers of icosahedrite, the first natural quasicrystal, and, in 2011, led a successful geological expedition to Chukotka in Far Eastern Russia to find new information about its origin and retrieve more samples.