How the Hippies Saved Physics

WED, APR 28, 2010 (1:05:21)

MIT Professor David Kaiser describes the field of physic’s bumpy transition from New Age to cutting edge. In recent years, the field of quantum information science has catapulted to the cutting edge of physics. Long before the big budgets and dedicated teams, however, the field smoldered on the scientific sidelines within the hazy, bong-filled excesses of the 1970s New Age movement. Many of the ideas that now occupy the core of quantum information science once found their home amid an anything-goes counterculture frenzy, a mishmash of spoon-bending psychics, Eastern mysticism, LSD trips, CIA spooks chasing mind-reading dreams, and comparable “Age of Aquarius” enthusiasts. Photo:

+ BIO: David Kaiser

David Kaiser is an associate professor in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and a lecturer in MIT’s Department of Physics. He completed an A.B. in physics (1993) at Dartmouth College, and PhDs in physics (1997) and the history of science (2000) at Harvard University. Kaiser’s historical research focuses on the development of physics in the United States during the Cold War, looking at how the discipline has evolved at the intersection of politics, culture, and the changing shape of higher education. His physics research focuses on early-universe cosmology, working at the interface of particle physics and gravitation.

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