Speaker to advocate for “Shut Up and Calculate!” in physics

By: Anna Carmichael,  AS Communications
Mon, 09/18/2017

Nima Arkani-Hamed is one of the leading particle physicists in the world. On September 25, he will be presenting the lecture, “Three cheers for ‘Shut up and Calculate!’ in fundamental physics,” in his last public talk as an A.D. White Professor-at-Large. 

The talk, at 7:30 p.m. in Cornell’s Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall, is free and open to the public. There will be a pre-lecture reception held outside of Schwartz Auditorium from 6:30-7:30pm.

Cornell physicist David Mermin once said the best way to understand quantum mechanics was to “shut up and calculate.” This has become a popular approach to thinking about physics: solve equations, don’t ask questions. It has been criticized, however, as unsophisticated; better, some feel, to “ask profound questions.” Arkani-Hamed’s talk will illustrate the value of the “shut up and calculate” approach and why it doesn’t indicate an unwillingness to think about big questions.

"Nima has changed the way we think about particle physics and cosmology, and in this lecture we have the chance to hear his views on quantum mechanics. I can't wait," says Yuval Grossman, professor of physics.

Arkani-Hamed is a professor of natural sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He is interested in the relationship between experiment and theory; his research areas include particle accelerators and cosmological observations.

He was awarded the Fundamental Physics Prize in 2012, a $3 million dollar prize from Yuri Milner, a physicist and internet entrepreneur. He is also the recipient of the Sackler Prize, the Gribov Medal and the INFN-Pisa Gamberini Prize. In 2000, he was awarded the Packard and Sloan Fellowship. He received his B.S. from the University of Toronto, and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997. 

Arkani-Hamed’s talk is sponsored by the Department of Physics and the A.D. White Professors-at-Large Program.