AAAS 2010

By Sean Carroll | June 26, 2009 10:41 am

The internets have spoken, and it’s a good thing I listened. A few months ago I had the idea to organize a session at the upcoming meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in San Diego next February. It’s a giant cross-scientific-disciplinary meeting, offering a great chance for journalists and scientists in diverse fields to catch up on what’s happening in other areas.

But I couldn’t decide between two possible topics, both of which are close to my heart: “The Origin of the Universe” or “The Arrow of Time.” (My original book subtitle was “The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time,” before that was squelched by the marketing department and replaced with “The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time.” Quests are big these days, apparently.) So I did the natural thing: I Tweeted the question. And the internet spoke with a fairly unambiguous voice: “Arrow of Time” sounded more interesting. So that’s what I proposed.

And now we’ve just been accepted, so it’s on for San Diego 2010. We have a fantastic line-up of speakers (and also me), spanning quite a range of topics:

That’s the fun part about this topic; it ranges naturally from the birth of the universe to the operation of your brain. Should be a good symposium.

Update: Unfortunately, Daniel Schacter won’t be able to make the symposium. Instead, we are very fortunate to have Kathleen McDermott of Washington University in St. Louis. Her research involves how we remember the past and forecast the future.

  • CoffeeCupContrails

    Sounds interesting.

    Shouldn’t that last sentence read “…from the birth of the universe TO the operation of your brain.”?

  • Sean

    Yeah, it should. Fixed.

  • Ellipsis

    If you asked the public which is more interesting: “the nature of consciousness” or “the evolution of the mammalian hippocampus,” I think the public would undoubtedly say the former, even though neuroscientists might say they are more interested in a session on the latter since theories are more easily testable and we are closer to understanding the problem in a testable way.

    There’s a reason why scientific positions are not elected by the general public, and perhaps it’s for the best.

  • Pieter Kok

    Ellipsis, that’s why you give them a carefully predetermined A or B question. I do this as a matter of routine with my son. 😉

  • Jimbo

    Sean, surely you’re going to invite Paul Davies, author of `About Time’ & `Physics of Time Asymmetry’ ? Also, don’t overlook Julian Barbour & George Ellis. The many essays on the subject of time at FXQI would be a groovy sources as well.

  • Greg R.

    Very cool. I hope to check this out on the weekend dates. I know it’s early, but any idea if your doing your talk on the 20th or 21st?

  • Sean

    We’re going to aim for the 21st, but that’s ultimately up to the AAAS.


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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