Harvard Science Book Talk: Stephon Alexander, in conversation with C. Brandon Ogbunu, "Fear of a Black Universe: An Outsider's Guide to the Future of Physics"


Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 6:00pm

Where Online: https://www.harvard.com/event/virtual_event_stephon_alexander/
When October 20, 2021 @6:00PM
Organization/Sponsor Harvard Division of Science, Harvard Library, and Harvard Book Store
Speaker(s) Stephon Alexander (Brown U)
C. Brandon Ogbunu (Yale)
Cost free
Contact Info science_lectures@fas.harvard.edu

Stephon Alexander book cover and photo, C. Brandon Ogbunu photo

Years ago, cosmologist Stephon Alexander received life-changing advice: to discover real physics, he needed to stop memorizing and start taking risks. In Fear of a Black Universe, Alexander shows that great physics requires us to think outside the mainstream—to improvise and rely on intuition.

His approach leads him to three principles that shape all theories of the universe: the principle of invariance, the quantum principle, and the principle of emergence. Alexander uses them to explore some of physics' greatest mysteries, from what happened before the big bang to how the universe makes consciousness possible. Drawing on his experience as a Black physicist, he makes a powerful case for diversifying our scientific communities. Compelling and empowering, Fear of a Black Universe offers remarkable insight into the art of physics.


Stephon Alexander is a professor of theoretical physics at Brown University, an established jazz musician, and an immigrant from Trinidad who grew up in the Bronx. He is the 2020 president of the National Society of Black Physicists and a founding faculty Director of Brown University's Presidential Scholars program, which supports research and academic excellence for underrepresented students. In addition to his academic achievements, he was the scientific consultant to Ava DuVernay for the feature film A Wrinkle in Time. His work has been featured by the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalWIRED, and many other outlets. He has been a guest on Nova, the Brian Lehrer Show, and Neil deGrasse Tyson's StarTalk, among much else.

C. Brandon Ogbunu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. His work utilizes a range of methods--from experimental evolution to biochemistry, applied mathematics, and evolutionary computation--geared towards a refined understanding of complex systems and disease phenomena. He also runs a parallel research program at the intersection of science, society, and culture. In this capacity, he explores technical questions about the role of society and culture in complex biological phenomena. In addition, he writes, gives public lectures, and creates media of various kinds. He is currently a contributing editor at RadioLab, an Ideas contributor at Wired, and has written for a range of publications, including Scientific American, The Undefeated, Undark, the Boston Review and several others on various topics at the intersection of science and society.

For more information and videos of Harvard Science Book Talks, see https://science.fas.harvard.edu/book-talks