Saturday, August 2, 2014

Antigravity and the history of Relativsitic Astrophysics


If you can sneak away this afternoon and you want to see a fascinating history of physics video, this is the one!  This is a recording of the history roundtable at last December's 50th anniversary meeting of the  Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics.  The speaker include in no particular order:
Roger Penrose
Wolfgang Rindler
Charles Misner
Louis Witten
Cecile DeWitt-Morette
Joshua Goldberg
Ezra Ted Newman
and Roy Kerr,
and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head.

The agreed upon format was that each speaker had two or three minutes to introduce themselves and then the moderator would ask questions.  Fortunately, the format was completely abandoned!  What followed was over two hours of each speaker recounting their favorite stories about the history of relativistic astrophysics.  The whole video is worth watching.  Here's a link to the video on youtube queued to the beginning of Louis Witten's talk.  He worked for RIAS in the 1950's and 60's and was tasked with finding anti-gravity.  Of course, that didn't work out, but the stories are funny and the work he actually did while there is fascinating.  As an aside, he's also the father of Edward Witten, string thoerist par excelance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Witten.  The talk here and a few other sources have been the inspiration for my recent history of physics research into RIAS resulting in posts like http://chipdesignmag.com/carter/2014/07/30/satellite-crowdfunding-then-and-now/


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