David Albert

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David Z. Albert, Ph.D., is Frederick E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy and Director of the M.A. Program in The Philosophical Foundations of Physics at Columbia University in New York. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from Columbia College (1976) and his doctorate in theoretical physics from The Rockefeller University (1981) under Professor Nicola Khuri.[1] Afterwards he worked with Professor Yakir Aharonov of Tel Aviv University.

Albert has published two books (Quantum Mechanics and Experience (1992) and Time and Chance (2000)) and numerous articles on quantum mechanics. His books are both praised and criticized for their informal, conversational style, but he is routinely credited by both fan and critic as having a talent for communicating difficult, highly abstract concepts in ways that are accessible to the lay science reader.

Appearance in What the Bleep Do We Know!?[edit]

Albert appeared in the controversial movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? (2004). According to Popular Science, he was "outraged at the final product."[2] The article states that Albert granted the filmmakers a near-four hour interview about quantum mechanics being unrelated to consciousness or spirituality. His interview was then edited and incorporated into the film in a way that misrepresented his views. In the article, Albert also expresses his feelings of gullibility after having been "taken" by the filmmakers. Although Albert is listed as a scientist taking part in the sequel to What the Bleep, called "Down the Rabbit Hole",[3] this sequel is a "director's cut", composed of extra footage from the filming of the first movie. The "Down the Rabbit Hole" version features David as the first subject in the interview portion of the film. In that interview he expresses his disagreement with the major thrust of the original "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

Tiff with Lawrence Krauss[edit]

In March 2012, Albert published an extremely negative review of Lawrence Krauss' book A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing in the New York Times book review,.[4] Krauss, a well-known cosmologist and popular science writer, claimed that his book counters religion and philosophy, and the book was cited by Richard Dawkins as comparable to Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” on the grounds that it upends the “last trump card of the theologian.” In his review, Albert called the book "pale, small, silly, nerdy.” Disagreeing with the central thesis of Krauss' book Albert wrote:

The particular, eternally persisting, elementary physical stuff of the world, according to the standard presentations of relativistic quantum field theories, consists (unsurprisingly) of relativistic quantum fields... they have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story.

Krauss responded in an interview published in The Atlantic[5] calling Albert “moronic” and dismissing the philosophy of science as worthless. In March 2013, The New York Times reported[6] that Albert, who has previously been invited to speak at the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History, was later disinvited. Albert claimed "It sparked a suspicion that Krauss must have demanded that I not be invited. But of course I’ve got no proof."

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doctoral thesis: Determination of the critical exponents of the n-vector model by Borel resummation, doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.25.4810
  2. ^ Cult Science - Dressing up mysticism as quantum physics, Popular Science, Oct. 19, 2004
  3. ^ WHAT THE BLEEP!? - DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
  4. ^ [1], New York Times Book Review, March 25, 2012
  5. ^ [2] Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete? The Atlantic, April 2012
  6. ^ [3] New York Times, Arts Beat, March 13, 2013

External links[edit]