Big Bang Boom: Einstein’s Universe
Rewind 14 billion years. Hot, formless quark soup emerges from the Big Bang.
Fast forward to 1905. A young Albert Einstein scores a triple in his "miraculous year"; he proves the existence of atoms, sets physics on the road to the quantum and lays out the Special Theory of Relativity, with its unexpected new vision of space and time.
Advance to 1915. Einstein finishes his General Theory of Relativity, a radical new theory of space, time and gravity that encompasses the structure of the entire universe, from the Big Bang to the present and beyond. Weird new phenomena from the bending of light by gravity to black holes to the cosmic echoes of the Big Bang are predicted and eventually observed.
Enter the Dark Side in 2005. By the 21st century, stunning advances in technology allow cosmological theories to be tested with unprecedented accuracy. Einstein's universe is thought to be full of dark matter, dark energy, black holes, cosmic strings, gravitational waves and other exotica, but his basic vision of the fabric of the cosmos endures. It is perhaps his greatest legacy.
New developments in our conception of the cosmos as a whole continue to excite and intrigue stargazers, philosophers and scientists from Peru to Norway to Hawaii. We live in a Golden Age of cosmology, where observations and theory combine to stimulate new insights and pose new mysteries regarding the origin, structure, and ultimate fate of our universe.
A century after his miraculous year, Albert Einstein remains a world icon for science, philosophy and humanism. "I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive." Join us on September 26, 2005 for a guided tour of our universe, and to find out why "It's Albert's world. We just live in it."
Big Bang Boom: Einstein's Legacy in the 21st Century will feature lectures by two renowned scientists, physicist Michael S. Turner of the University of Chicago and the National Science Foundation, and astronomer Robert Kirshner of Harvard University. In addition, distinguished novelist and science writer Alan Lightman will join us to provide a perspective from the crossroads of science, the humanities and the arts. There will be audience opportunities for interaction and discussion with our guests.
Dr. Michael S. Turner is the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. He also holds appointments in the Department of Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute at Chicago. For more than 20 years he was member of the scientific staff at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Turner received his B.S. in Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University in 1978. His association with The University of Chicago began in 1978 as an Enrico Fermi Fellow, and in 1980 he joined the faculty. Turner is a Fellow of the APS and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Turner has been honored with the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, the Halley Lectureship at Oxford University, and the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Chicago. He has served on or chaired many advisory committees for the NRC, DoE, NSF and NASA, and since 1984 he has been involved in the governance of the Aspen Center for Physics, serving as President from 1989 to 1993. From 1998-2003 he served on the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Math and Science Academy. Turner's transparencies were featured in a one-man show at the CfPA Gallery.
Turner is a cosmologist whose research focuses on the earliest moments of the universe. He has made important contributions to inflationary universe theory, understanding of dark matter and the origin of structure. Turner and Edward Kolb helped to establish the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at Fermilab and wrote the monograph, The Early Universe.
Turner has recently been appointed Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the National Science Foundation.
Dr. Robert Kirshner is Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University. He is also Master of Quincy House, one of Harvard's undergraduate residences. He graduated from Harvard University in 1970 and received a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the California Institute of Technology in 1975. After a postdoc at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan for 9 years before moving to the Harvard Astronomy Department in 1986. He served as Chairman of the Astronomy Department from 1990-1997 and as Associate Director for Optical and Infrared Astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics from 1997-2003.
Professor Kirshner is an author of over 200 research papers dealing with supernovae, the large-scale distribution of galaxies, and the size and shape of the universe. His work with the High-Z Supernova Team on the acceleration of the universe was dubbed Science Breakthrough of the Year for 1998 by Science Magazine. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 and to the American Philosophical Society in 2004. He was elected President of the American Astronomical Society in 2003.
Kirshner is a frequent public lecturer on science and is the author of a popular-level book, The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos.
Dr. Alan Lightman, a Professor in the Writing and Humanistic Studies Program at MIT, focuses on the intersection of the arts and sciences by exploring the many ways good writing informs and strengthens both worlds. Lightman has been highly recognized for his academic writings by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been elected a fellow of both organizations. He has also twice been a juror for The Pulitzer Prize in the fiction and non-fiction categories.
Lightman's accomplishments in the scientific realm have been matched by equal success in the world of arts and literature. He is the author of a dozen books, including the critically-acclaimed novel Einstein's Dreams, an international bestseller which was runner up for the 1994 PEN New England/Winship Award and was a selection for National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation Book Club. It has become one of the most widely used books on college campuses and has been selected for Common Book programs at a dozen major universities. His novel The Diagnosis was voted one of the 10 best of the year by Booksense independent booksellers and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2000. Lightman's 2005 collection of writings, A Sense of The Mysterious, occasioned The New York Times to proclaim him "a scientist in love with words, one who can write clearly and appealingly about his subject for a lay readership."
Lightman received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology. From 1976 to 1989, he taught astronomy and physics at Harvard University where he received international recognition for his research in astrophysics and had a number of articles published in the leading journals of physics.
The George W. and Mildred K. White Science Seminar Fund