Home | About | Upcoming | Archives | Other PITP Archives | PITP

  7:30 pm, Wednesday, November 9
Fairmont Social lounge, St. John's College

Einstein's Vision and the Quantum Universe

James Hartle

University of California
Santa Barbara

Albert Einstein was a great pioneer in the quest for the fundamental laws that govern the regularities exhibited universally by all physical systems, without exception, without qualification, and without approximation. We will discuss Einstein's vision for the nature of these laws and for their discovery by a process of abstraction, generalization, and unification guided by mathematical elegance. The discovery of his theory of gravitation --- general relativity --- will illustrate this vision. But Einstein's vision has had to be modified to accommodate the quantum mechanical laws of microscopic physics. We will discuss the implications of quantum mechanics for the nature of the fundamental laws, for our picture of the the universe on the largest scales of cosmology, and for our understanding of the origin of the universe in the big bang where large and small are one. Lessons for the nature of scientific authority will be drawn.

James B. Hartle is Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His scientific work is concerned with the application of Einstein's relativistic theory of gravitation --- general relativity --- to realistic astrophysical situations, especially cosmology. He has contributed usefully to the understanding of gravitational waves, relativistic stars, and black holes. His current interest is the quantum origin of the universe and the generalizations of quantum mechanics necessary for that. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a past director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara.
Find out more by visiting his webpage.

Additional resources for this talk: video.