David Kaiser

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David Kaiser
Alma materDartmouth College (A.B. 1993)
Harvard University (Ph.D 1997, 2000)
Scientific career
History of science
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology

David I. Kaiser is an American physicist and historian of science. He is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a full professor in MIT's department of physics. He also served as an inaugural Associate Dean for MIT's cross-disciplinary program in Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing.[1]

Kaiser is the author or editor of several books on the history of science, including Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (2005), How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (2011),[2] and Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World (2020).[3] He received the Apker Award[4] from the American Physical Society in 1993 and was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2010. His historical scholarship has been honored with the Pfizer Award (2007)[5] and the Davis Prize (2013)[6] from the History of Science Society. In March 2012 he was awarded the MacVicar fellowship, a prestigious MIT undergraduate teaching award.[7] In 2012, he also received the Frank E. Perkins Award from MIT for excellence in mentoring graduate students.[8]


Kaiser completed his AB in physics at Dartmouth College in 1993. He completed two PhDs from Harvard University. The first was in physics in 1997 for a thesis entitled "Post-Inflation Reheating in an Expanding Universe," the second in the history of science in 2000 for a thesis on "Making Theory: Producing Physics and Physicists in Postwar America."[1]


Kaiser's physics research mostly focuses on early-universe cosmology, including topics such as cosmic inflation,[9][10] post-inflation reheating,[11][12][13] and primordial black holes.[14][15] He has also helped to design and conduct novel experimental tests of quantum theory, including the "Cosmic Bell" experiments[16][17][18] that Kaiser worked on together with Nobel laureate Anton Zeilinger,[19] and which were featured in the PBS Nova documentary film Einstein's Quantum Riddle (2019).[20]

Kaiser's historical research focuses on intersections among modern natural sciences, geopolitics, and the history of higher education during the Cold War.

In addition to his scholarly writing, Kaiser's work has appeared in the New York Times,[21][22][23][24] the New Yorker magazine,[25][26][27] and in several PBS Nova television programs.[28]



  1. ^ a b Kaiser CV, MIT, accessed January 13, 2023; "Short biography", MIT, accessed January 13, 2023.
  2. ^ Hugh Gusterson, "Physics: Quantum outsiders", Nature, 476, 278–279, August 18, 2011.

    George Johnson, "What Physics Owes the Counterculture", The New York Times, June 17, 2011.

  3. ^ Phillip Ball, "Quantum inheritance and the ongoing quest for meaning", Physics World, 47-48, May 18, 2020.
  4. ^ American Physical Society, "LeRoy Apker Award: An Undergraduate Physics Achievement Award", accessed January 13, 2023.
  5. ^ History of Science Society, "Pfizer Award".
  6. ^ History of Science Society, "Davis Prize".
  7. ^ Jesse Kirkpatrick, "Four MacVicar Recipients", The Tech, 132(13).
  8. ^ MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, "David Kaiser receives Frank E. Perkins Award" (2012).
  9. ^ Alan H. Guth and David I. Kaiser, "Inflationary Cosmology: Exploring the Universe from the Smallest to the Largest Scales", Science 307, 884-890 (February 2005), arXiv:astro-ph/0502328.
  10. ^ Alan H. Guth, David I. Kaiser, and Yasunori Nomura, "Inflationary Paradigm After Planck 2013", Physics Letters B 733, 112-119 (2014), arXiv:1312.7619
  11. ^ Mustafa A. Amin, Mark P. Hertzberg, David I. Kaiser, and Johanna Karouby, "Nonperturbative Dynamics of Reheating After Inflation: A Review", International Journal of Modern Physics D 24, 1530003 (2015), arXiv:1410.3808.
  12. ^ Rachel Nguyen, Jorinde van de Vis, Evangelos I. Sfakianakis, John T. Giblin Jr., and David I. Kaiser, "Nonlinear Dynamics of Preheating after Multifield Inflation with Nonminimal Couplings", Physical Review Letters 123, 171301 (2019), arXiv:1905.12562.
  13. ^ Rouzbeh Allahverdi et al., "The First Three Seconds: A Review of Possible Expansion Histories of the Early Universe", Open Journal of Astrophysics 4 (2021), arXiv:2006.16182.
  14. ^ Sarah R. Geller, Wenzer Qin, Evan McDonough, and David I. Kaiser, "Primordial Black Holes from Multifield Inflation with Nonminimal Couplings", Physical Review D 106, 063535 (2022), arXiv:2205.04471.
  15. ^ David Kaiser, "Primordial Black Holes as Dark Matter Candidates", Black Hole Initiative, Harvard University, December 12, 2022.
  16. ^ Johannes Hadnsteiner et al., "Cosmic Bell Test: Measurement Settings from Milky Way Stars", Physical Review Letters 118, 060401 (2017)
  17. ^ Dominik Rauch et al., "Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars", Physical Review Letters 121, 080403 (2018).
  18. ^ David Kaiser, "Quantum Theory by Starlight", New Yorker, February 7, 2017.
  19. ^ David Kaiser, "They probed quantum entanglement while everyone shrugged", Nautilus, October 5, 2022.
  20. ^ NOVA PBS (January 9, 2019). "Einstein's Quantum Riddle". YouTube. WGBH Educational Foundation.
  21. ^ David Kaiser, "I Didn't Write That", New York Times, November 3, 2012.
  22. ^ David Kaiser, "Is Quantum Entanglement Real?", New York Times, November 14, 2014.
  23. ^ David Kaiser, "How Politics Shaped General Relativity", New York Times, November 6, 2015.
  24. ^ David Kaiser, "Learning from Gravitational Waves", New York Times, October 3, 2017.
  25. ^ David Kaiser, "A Physicist's Farewell to Stephen Hawking", New Yorker, March 15, 2018.
  26. ^ David Kaiser, "Free Will, Video Games, and the Most Profound Quantum Mystery", New Yorker, May 9, 2018.
  27. ^ David Kaiser, "Freeman Dyson's Letters Offer Another Glimpse of Genius", New Yorker, March 5, 2020.
  28. ^ David Kaiser, "Public Broadcasting Appearances".

Further reading[edit]