Culture

When Einstein Met Owsley

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Dancing with the particles

Fun lecture of the day: the MIT physicist and historian of science David Kaiser on "How the Hippies Saved Physics." The title is tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely tongue-in-cheek. Kaiser looks back at that juncture in the '70s when the counterculture collided with the sciences, and he argues that, along with various pop-culture artifacts you might remember -- The Tao of Physics, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, various articles attempting to link quantum mechanics to parapsychology -- the results included real theoretical and technological advances that we now take for granted. I'll have to read Kaiser's book (not out yet, alas) before I decide how much of that causal argument I accept. In the meantime, though, his lecture is an absorbing tour through a singular cultural moment.

[Hat tip: Bryan Alexander.]