CERN Colloquium

Albert Einstein, Analogizer Extraordinaire

by Dr Douglas Hofstadter (Cognitive Science, Indiana University)

500-1-001 - Main Auditorium (CERN)

500-1-001 - Main Auditorium


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Where does deep insight in physics come from? It is tempting to think that it comes from the purest and most precise of reasoning, following ironclad laws of thought that compel the clear mind completely rigidly. And yet the truth is quite otherwise. One finds, when one looks closely at any major discovery, that the greatest of physicists are, in some sense, the most crazily daring and irrational of all physicists. Albert Einstein exemplifies this thesis in spades.

In this talk I will describe the key role, throughout Albert Einstein's fabulously creative life, played by wild guesses made by analogy lacking any basis whatsoever in pure reasoning. In particular, in this year of 2007, the centenary of 1907, I will describe how over the course of two years (1905 through 1907) of pondering, Einstein slowly came, via analogy, to understand the full, radical consequences of the equation that he had first discovered and published in 1905, arguably the most famous equation of all time: E = mc2.

Tea & coffee will be served at 16:00.

Organiser(s): L. Alvarez-Gaume / PH-TH
Video in CDS
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