This lecture, based on Alan Lightman's book The Discoveries, will discuss great scientific discoveries in the 20th century and the scientists responsible for these discoveries, including the discovery of the quantum in 1900, hormones in 1902, the particle nature of light in 1905, relativity in 1905, the nucleus of the atom in 1911, the size of the cosmos in 1912, the quantum atom in 1913, the method of communication between nerves in 1921, the uncertainty principle in 1927, the nature of the chemical bond in 1928, the expansion of the universe in 1929, antibiotics in 1929, the Krebs energy cycle in 1937, nuclear fission in 1939, the movability of genes in 1948, the structure of DNA in 1953, the structure of hemoglobin in 1960, the cosmic background radiation in 1965, the unified theory of fundamental forces in 1967, quarks in 1969, and recombinant DNA in 1972.
He will examine one case study in detail: the discovery of the cosmic distance scale by Henrietta Leavitt in 1912. Based on analyzing these discoveries, he will discuss a “taxonomy” of scientific discovery, that is, a classification scheme of different kinds of discovery: discovery by accident, principles first, principles last, the timely clue, analogy, new tools, the mathematical imperative, and the “long haul.” Finally, he will discuss common patterns in the creative process in science.
Signing session after the keynote with Alan Lightman for his book The Discoveries available for sale.
A cocktail reception will take place prior to the keynote lecture from 5:00 p.m.
The lecture will be followed by the screening of "Measuring the World".
Nannie services are available for children from 3 to 8 years old. To register click here.
Alan Paige Lightman
Alan Lightman is an American physicist and writer. He has a PhD in physics from the California Institute of Technology. His scientific research has been in the areas of general relativity, radiation processes, and stellar dynamics. His literary essays and articles have appeared in the Atlantic, Granta, Harper’s, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Salon, and many others.
His six novels include Einstein’s Dreams, which has been translated into 30 languages, and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award. Lightman has served on the faculties of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first person at MIT to receive a joint faculty appointment in the sciences and the humanities.
Lightman is currently professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT. In 2005, he founded the Harpswell Foundation, whose mission is to empower a new generation of women leaders in Southeast Asia.
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