Harvard Science Book Talk: Adam Becker (Nov. 15 @6:00PM)

October 30, 2018
Portrait of Dr. Adam Becker and book cover


Adam Becker, The Trouble With Quantum Physics, and Why It Matters

Q&A with Dr. Jacob Barandes (Harvard) to follow the talk

Watch the video

Thursday, November 15, 2018 @6:00PM
Science Center Hall C, One Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Quantum physics is arguably the most successful scientific theory ever devised. It explains a wide variety of natural phenomena to an extraordinary degree of accuracy—everything from semiconductors to the Sun itself. Yet it’s unclear what this immensely fruitful theory says about reality. Is it really impossible to talk about what’s happening to atoms and subatomic particles when we’re not looking at them? For many years, the standard answer to questions like this was to "shut up and calculate." A historical myth went along with this answer that said Einstein had once worried about these questions, but was proven wrong by the great Danish physicist Niels Bohr. Yet the myth is untrue, and these thorny quantum paradoxes are far more important than most physicists once believed. In this talk, which is based on his book, Dr. Becker will explain the puzzles at the heart of quantum physics, why they matter, and what really went down between Einstein and Bohr 90 years ago.

Adam Becker is an author, astrophysicist, and public speaker. His book, What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics (Basic Books, 2018) is a "thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science," according to the New York Times. The Washington Post called it "splendid," and Science dubbed Adam "a riveting storyteller." Adam has also written for the BBC, NPR, Scientific American, NOVA, New Scientist, and other science media outlets. He recorded a video series with the BBC, and has appeared on numerous podcasts. Adam has a PhD in cosmology from the University of Michigan and an undergraduate degree in philosophy and in physics from Cornell University. He is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Book Grant for his work on What Is Real. Adam is a visiting scholar in the Office for the History of Science and Technology at UC Berkeley. He lives in Oakland, California.

The talk is free and open to the public

For more information and to be notified about future events, please contact: science_lectures@fas.harvard.edu.


Science Center Hall C


Cabot Science Library

The talks are sponsored by the Harvard Division of Science and Cabot Science Library in collaboration with Harvard Book Store.