Seminar: Rescuing Living Matter from the "Black Hole of Departmental Tribalism"

Event Details

  • Speaker(s): Rob Phillips
  • Date:
  • Time: 10:00 AM
  • Location: SSC 1511


During his time at the ETH in Zurich, Albert Einstein was deeply disappointed that they did not discuss the “most fascinating subject” of the time that he was a student there, namely, Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory of light.  And he was right: this was 30 years after Maxwell’s elucidation of the equations that bear his name and nearly a decade after Heinrich Hertz confirmed that theory with his classic experiments.  This leads me often to wonder what the “most fascinating subjects” of our time might be and what this tells us about the way we educate our students.  As someone who left high school after 11th grade and never attended college, I have for nearly 40 years felt deeply disappointed by the uninspiring conventionalism of the educational experience.  I will give a very personal view of my own adventures in education and try to explain why I feel that the study of the living world is indeed the subject of our time for physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians and engineers alike.  Finally, I will give my take on the ways in which we have failed to engage the public about science leading to a kind of intellectual relativism that engenders labels such as “alternative facts” that have graced the newspapers and websites of the American media.