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:
- Me, setting the stage about the arrow of time and the Second Law, and drawing some connections to cosmology.
- Huw Price, director of the Centre for Time, Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney, and author of Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point. Huw will be talking about the arrow of time in philosophy.
- Anthony Leggett, winner of the Nobel Prize in 2003 for his work on superfluidity. Tony will be talking about the arrow of time in quantum mechanics and condensed matter physics.
- Michael Lässig, University of Cologne. Michael specializes in statistical physics and quantitative biology, and will be speaking on the arrow of time in biology, in particular in evolution. He recently gave a talk on this topic at the KITP.
- Daniel Schacter, Harvard, author of The Seven Sins of Memory. Dan was the leader of the studies showing that the brain predicts the future in the same way that it remembers the past. He’ll be talking about the arrow of time in psychology.
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.