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Einstein, Schrödinger, Dice, Cats, & Quantum Physics: What is Our Weird Universe Made Of?

The Freethought Society joins with the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia and the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia to host acclaimed science writer and physicist Paul H. Halpern as a speaker onSundayMay 31, 2015 at 4:00 PM. Halpren’s presentation is entitled Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics. The presentation will take place at the EHSP building, located at 1906 South Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia.

Halpren’s presentation, based on his book of the same name, investigates how physicists Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger battled together against the incompleteness and indeterminacy of quantum mechanics. Their conversations resulted in many interesting quips, including Einstein famously and amusingly saying that God does not play dice with the universe and Schrödinger creating his famous fable and thought-experiment of a cat in a box that is in a mixed state between life and death until it is observed, that was neither alive nor dead not to explain quantum mechanics but to highlight the apparent absurdity of a theory gone wrong. But these two giants did more than just criticize: they fought back, seeking a unified Theory of Everything that would make the universe seem sensible again, a theory that would unite the forces of nature and supersede quantum weirdness.

Einstein dedicated the final decades of his life in the search for unification. Even on his deathbed he asked for pencil and paper in a vain attempt to complete his calculations. Less familiar, but similarly intriguing, are the efforts of Austrian physicist Schrödinger to solve the same riddle and beat Einstein, with whom he had collaborated, to the answer. The relationship between the two extraordinary physicists offers a riveting tale about a deep friendship challenged by the temptations of scientific glory.

Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics has received positive reviews from a diverse readership, both professional and everyday reader. A seemingly inscrutable subject to cover, Halpern’s writing and speaking is down to earth as he easily engages the reader and listener on what is a complicated problem involving two of the greatest minds who ever lived. Among the many reviews, the Library Journal said of Halpern’s work that it is “A highly approachable book that will appeal to readers…who are interested in physics, the history of science, and the human and political aspects of scientists and their work.” The Wall Street Journal stated that it is “A fascinating and thought-provoking story, one that sheds light on the origins of some aspects of the current challenging situation in physics…. Mr. Halpern’s engaging account is a great human story and should be of interest as well to anyone fascinated by the still-unsolved questions that they pursued together.” And in the reveiw by Nature, “Physicist Paul Halpern tells the entangled tale of Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, and their search for a Grand Unified Theory with humour and concision.”

Halpern is Professor of Physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and an acclaimed author of 14 popular science books, exploring the subjects of space, time, higher dimensions, dark energy, dark matter, exoplanets, particle physics, and cosmology. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, and an Athenaeum Literary Award. A regular contributor to NOVA’s The Nature of Reality physics blog, he has appeared on numerous radio and television shows including Future Quest and The Simpsons 20thAnniversary Special.

Halpern’s presentation is free and open to the public, and begins at 4:00 PMSundayMay 31, at the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia building, 1906 Rittenhouse Square. Books will be available for purchase.

Paul Halpern portrait

Paul Halpern


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The Freethought Society News Editorial Staff


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