History

When Einstein Met Owsley

|


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.]