Physicist Paul Halpern to present virtual symposium at Centenary
SHREVEPORT, LA — Dr. Paul Halpern, physicist and author of Flashes of Creation: George Gamow, Fred Hoyle, and the Great Big Bang Debate, will speak about his book via Zoom on Wednesday, October 20, at 7:00 p.m.
Centenary community members will be able to gather in the College’s Carlile Auditorium in Mickle Hall to participate in the symposium in-person, while the Zoom presentation is open to the general public at centenary.edu/Halpern.
Halpern, a professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, is the author of 17 books and numerous articles on space, time, higher dimensions, and the cultural aspects of science, including Time Journeys, Cosmic Wormholes, The Cyclical Serpent, What’s Science Ever Done for Us?, Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat, The Quantum Labyrinth, Synchronicity, and his latest work, Flashes of Creation. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Fulbright Scholarship, and an Athenaeum Library Award, Halpern has appeared on C-SPAN, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and in the PBS series “Future Quest” as well as “The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special.”
Flashes of Creation traces the development of the Big Bang model in cosmology during the 1950s by focusing on the physicists George Gamow and Fred Hoyle. Gamow pioneered the idea that light elements were produced in the hot fireball of the early universe, while Hoyle advanced the theory that heavier elements are formed as stars pressure-cook lighter atoms, then explode. Today, scientists acknowledge that each made key contributions to cosmology, although, as Halpern shows, the two sharply disagreed. For instance, Hoyle coined the phrase “Big Bang” to mock the idea that the universe had a hot beginning, preferring “steady-state” models where the universe was indefinitely old.
Centenary physics professor Dr. David Kordahl connected with Halpern after reviewing his previous book, Synchronicity, which explored correspondence between the physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the psychoanalyst Carl Jung.
“I'm excited for Centenary students, and the wider public in Caddo Parish, to have a chance to understand a bit of this history,” said Kordahl. “Halpern is able to illustrate how science really happens--how scientific disagreements are navigated by combining new observations and theoretical models. He is a veteran science writer, with books on everything from science in "The Simpsons" to the development of quantum theory, so it'll be great to hear him talk about Gamow and Hoyle, who also both wrote widely for the general public. I hope this event can show students just how exciting physics can be.”
Halpern’s symposium is generously underwritten by the Attaway Professorships in Civic Culture program at Centenary.