Advances in physics are forcing scientists to find new ways to describe the fundamental building blocks of the natural world.Our intuitive understanding of reality comes from what we see and experience, but modern physics tells us our world is actually stranger than the one we see, hear and touch every day. At the cutting edge of physics where we attempt to reconcile the bizarre domain of quantum mechanics with the cosmic vastness of relativity, scientists must increasingly rely on new ways of thinking to better understand the principles which underlie everything.

Again this year, the University of Arizona College of Science sponsored a series of evening lectures aimed at improving the general public’s understanding of some of the newest concepts in scientific thinking. This year’s theme was Rethinking Reality, where five UA physicists explained their role as pioneers rethinking the rules of reality. And again this year, the Arizona Senior Academy will offer its “encore series” of all five lectures for east side residents who were unable to attend the original events downtown.

Keith R. Dienes

The first encore lecture will be shown at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (March 2) in the ASA Great Room. It will feature Keith R. Dienes, a UA professor of physics and also the director of the Physics Program at the National Science Foundation. Because Dienes is based in Washington DC, the Academy can offer only a video of his talk, but he has offered to answer questions by phone at the end of the program.

In describing his lecture, the College of Science said Dienes will “describe the fundamental building blocks of the natural world and what they tell us about where physics might be heading in the future. Finally, we also discuss how physics gives rise to ‘weirdness at the extremes,’ including the emergence of a new ‘dark sector’ populated by modern ghosts.” Subsequent lectures in the encore series will be held later in March and in April.

Written by Marcia Neugebauer, Academy Village Volunteer

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Physics Forces Scientists to ‘Rethink Reality’: March 2017