DATE: Friday, May 30, 2014
TIME: 2:30 PM-4:00 PM
VENUE: NYU Global Center, Colloquium Room
MODERATOR: Paul Davies
PARTICIPANTS: David Z. Albert, Sean Carroll, Sheldon Goldstein, Ruediger Schack, Max Tegmark


The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public.

The quantum measurement problem reveals a deep mystery about the fundamental nature of our universe. While many interpretations have been presented—some more popular than others—none fully explain how the world operates on the quantum level. But how can we test these different theories? And what experiments have been done to more successfully bolster a case for one theory over another? Quantum theorists debate how best to get to the bottom of one of the biggest mysteries about the universe.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series.

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Physicist, Cosmologist, Astrobiologist

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and best-selling author. He is Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he is Director of Beyond: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, co-director of the Cosmology Initiative and principal investigator of the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology. He previously held academic appointments in the UK and Australia. His research focuses on the “big questions”, from the origin of the universe to the origin of life. His most recent popular book is The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe? He has received the Templeton Prize, the Royal Society’s Faraday Prize, the Kelvin Medal of the UK Institute of Physics, the Robinson Cosmology Prize, and many book awards. He is a member of the Order of Australia and a recipient of the Bicentenary Medal of Chile. The asteroid (6870) Pauldavies is named in his honor.


Physicist, 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. He is the author of Quantum Mechanics and Experience, Time and Chance, and After Physics. Albert holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Rockefeller University and has held professorships at Columbia University, Tel Aviv University, and the University of South Carolina. He’s also worked as a visiting professor at Harvard University and Princeton University.

Theoretical Physicist, Author

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. His research covers cosmology, field theory, dark energy, particle physics, and gravitation. He is the author of The Particle at the End of the Universe, an explanation of the search for the Higgs boson and the Large Hadron Collider, for which he won the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books in 2013. Carroll also wrote From Eternity to Here, which focuses on the flow of time and the origin of the universe. A regular blogger and public speaker, Carroll has appeared on “The Colbert Report” and “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.” He holds a PhD from Harvard and has worked at MIT; the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the University of Chicago.

Mathematician, Physicist, Philosopher

Sheldon Goldstein is a professor of mathematics, physics, and philosophy at Rutgers University. He studies the very foundations of quantum theory, probability theory, and statistical mechanics. A particular concern of his is the notion of increasing entropy and the arrow of time. His research also tackles why physical systems tend to approach equilibrium and the idea of nonlocality—how two particles separated by a wide amount of space can interact despite the lack of contact. He is a co-author, with Detlef Dürr and Nino Zanghi, of Quantum Physics Without Quantum Philosophy, which explains quantum interference and randomness without invoking quantum magic.

Ruediger Schack

Ruediger Schack is a Professor at the Department of Mathematics at Royal Holloway, University of London. He obtained his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics at the University of Munich in 1991 and held postdoctoral positions at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, the University of Southern California, the University of New Mexico, and Queen Mary and Westfield College before joining Royal Holloway in 1995. His research interests are quantum information theory, quantum cryptography and quantum Bayesianism.

Max Tegmark
Physicist, Author

Known as “Mad Max” for his unorthodox ideas and passion for adventure, Max Tegmark’s scientific interests range from precision cosmology to the ultimate nature of reality. He is author or coauthor of more than two hundred technical papers, twelve of which have been cited more than five hundred times. He has been featured in dozens of science documentaries, and his work with the SDSS collaboration on galaxy clustering shared the first prize in Science magazine’s “Breakthrough of the Year: 2003.” He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a physics professor at MIT.