Saturday, May 09, 2020 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Susan Lindee / University of Pennsylvania
The brilliant Polish physicist and chemist Marie Curie lived a life of profound personal courage. Her experiences illuminate a culture of "pure science" now long gone, and they help us understand some of the continuing issues for women scientists. She and her future husband Pierre worked ceaselessly under what turned out to be very dangerous and unwise conditions: they isolated radium and polonium, launched the entirely new science of radioactivity, and basically founded a scientific empire. Curie defended her doctoral dissertation in the spring of 1903 and a few months later she and her husband were awarded the Nobel Prize. After her husband died, she continued her demanding scientific work, going on to win another Nobel Prize for chemical work with radium. She served heroically at the French front during World War I, when Curie and her teen-aged daughter Irene drove an X-ray truck she had outfitted herself, to help doctors assess the brutal wounds of the First World War.
When Curie died in 1934 of a form of anemia brought on by exposure to radiation, she was one of the most famous women in the world. Austere, reserved, and powerful, she became a symbol of female genius, the only female scientist commonly included in children's books and other popular sources. In this lecture, U Penn Professor Susan Lindee will explore her astonishing life and work and its implications for women in science today.
Susan Lindee is a Janice and Julian Bers Professor of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Associate Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Lindee has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund 40th Anniversary Award, as well as support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
Matthew Stanley / New York University
Einstein's name is synonymous with genius. His wild-haired, thoughtful-eyed face has become an icon of modern science. His ideas changed the way we see the universe, the meaning of truth, and the very limits of human knowledge. This course will examine how Einstein’s youthful philosophical questioning led to a revolution in science. We will discuss his creation of special and general relativity, and particularly how these epochal theories emerged from his seemingly simple questions about how we experience the world. His preference for easily-visualizable thought experiments means we will be able to engage deeply with the science with very little mathematics. Einstein also pioneered quantum mechanics, only to reject its strange consequences and eventually devote his life to overturning it through a unified field theory.
Einstein’s elevation to worldwide fame was closely tied to political and social developments such as World War I, Zionism, and the rise of the Nazis. As he became an incarnation of genius, people sought out his views on everything from world peace to the nature of God – and his opinions often had surprising links to his scientific work. The picture of Einstein we end up with is a figure somehow both revolutionary and deeply traditional, emblematic of the modern age and also profoundly uncomfortable with it.
Matthew Stanley teaches the history and philosophy of science at NYU. He holds degrees in astronomy, religion, physics, and the history of science and is interested in the connections between science and the wider culture. He is the author of “Practical Mystic: Religion, Science, and A. S. Eddington” which examines how scientists reconcile their religious beliefs and professional lives. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, the British Academy, and the Max Planck Institute. Professor Stanley was awarded a 2014-2015 Gallatin Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Christina Greer / Fordham University
Frederick Douglass, one of America's most important historical figures, continues to inspire modern day human rights and civil rights activism. He was an educator, activist, abolitionist, and public speaker. Born into slavery in or around 1818 in Talbot County, Maryland, his owner's wifetaught him the alphabet; he subsequently taught himself to read and write. While still enslaved, Douglass taught others how to read and write. Douglass escaped his enslavement and fled to New York and then Massachusetts, where he became involved in the abolitionist movement.
Douglass traveled the U.S. advocating for the abolishment of slavery, as well as the UK and Ireland, and forged relationships with others fighting for freedom and equality. He was an advocate for women's rights, and specifically the right of women to vote. Douglass was even asked by Victoria Woodhull to serve as her Vice President in 1872. In this class, we will discuss Douglass' life and work as an advocate for electoral participation, gender inclusion, and racial equity. We will discuss the historical implications of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the subsequent amendments to the Constitution expanding the civil rights and civil liberties in the U.S. In this current political moment, it is important to contextualize the efforts of Douglass to change hearts and minds towards the institution of slavery across the U.S. and abroad.
Christina Greer is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. Her book “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” was the recipient of the WEB du Bois Best Book Award. She was also voted City & State’s 2014 Top 40 Under 40 Rising Stars. Professor Greer is a frequent political commentator on several media outlets, primarily MSNBC and NY1, and is often quoted in media outlets such as the NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, Newsday, and the AP.