Einstein's Biggest Blunder: 
A Cosmic Mystery Story 

Presented by:

Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss
Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics
Case Western Reserve University

Friday, April 11, 2003 - 8:00 p.m.
104 Keller Building - Penn State University - University Park, PA

         Prof. Lawrence M. Krauss is Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy, and Chair of the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University. He is an internationally known theoretical physicist with wide research interests, including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, where his studies include the early universe, the nature of dark matter, general relativity and neutrino astrophysics. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 then joined the Harvard Society of Fellows. In 1985 he joined the faculty of Physics at Yale University, and moved to take his current appointment in 1993. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

       Prof. Krauss is the author of over 180 scientific publications, as well as numerous popular articles on physics and astronomy. In addition, he is the author of six popular books, including the national bestseller, The Physics of Star Trek, and his most recent book Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth...and Beyond. He has lectured to popular audiences at such places as the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Natural History in New York and appears frequently on radio and television around the world. Prof. Krauss is the recipient of numerous awards for his research, writing, and lecturing, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science's 1999-2000 Award for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology, the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, the 2001 Andrew Gemant Award, and the 2002 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award.

See http://www.phys.cwru.edu/~krauss/bio.html for more background information.

Einstein's Biggest Blunder: A Cosmic Mystery Story

        Over the past decade, new observations have led to revolution in cosmology. The standard model of cosmology built up over a 20-year period up until the early 1990s is now dead. Its replacement may be far more bizarre. In particular, new data from a wide variety of independent cosmological and astrophysical observations combine together to strongly suggest more of the energy density of the universe today may be contained in empty space! This possibility is the strangest theoretical notion one can imagine, and may require us to totally revamp our theories of physics on the smallest scales. I will close by briefly describing possible implications for our understanding of nature, and for life, of this astounding new result.

Life the Universe and Nothing: The Future of Life in an Every Expanding Universe

        In this talk, I wil ruminate on the future of the Universe itself, and also on the future of life within it, using as my starting point recent observations in cosmology. I will first discuss why the Universe we appear to inhabit is the worst of all possible universes, as far as considerations of the quality and quantity of life is concerned. Then, I will describe how fundamental aspects of the way in which we teach cosmology, in particular the relation between geometry and destiny, have been altered by the recognition that the cosmological constant may not be zero. Finally, I will address the fascinating question of whether life might be eternal in an eternally expanding universe. The answer to this question appears to hinge on issues of basic physics, in particular on issues of quantum mechanics and computation, which may determine whether life is ultimately analog or digital.

  For more information contact Linda Becker at 814-865-6337 or llbece@engr.psu.edu.
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