The Universal Timekeeper: Reconstructing History Atom by Atom

Columbia University

David Helfand has been a Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University for 42 years, where he served as chair of the Department for nearly half that time. He is also the former President of the American Astronomical Society and of Quest University Canada, and currently serves as Chair of the American Institute of Physics. Professor Helfand has received the Columbia Presidential Teaching Award and the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates. He is the author of A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age.



November 22, 2022, 4:00 pm

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By utilizing the basic building blocks of matter as imperturbable little clocks, we are now able to reconstruct in quantitative detail a remarkable range of human and natural events. From the discovery of art forgeries and the dating of prehistoric archeological drawings, to a detailed history of human diet and the Earth’s climate, to the events surrounding the death of the dinosaurs, the origin of the Solar System, and the history of the Universe itself, the universal timekeepers provide us with a precise chronology from the beginning of time to the moment humans emerge to contemplate such questions.


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