Lee Smolin on Science and Democracy| 12mins
Director: TED | Producer: TED
Focus Years: 2006 | Country: United States
Physicist Lee Smolin talks about how the scientific community works: as he puts it, "we fight and argue as hard as we can," but everyone accepts that the next generation of scientists will decide who's right. And, he says, that's how democracy works, too. Lee Smolin's bachelor's degree was in physics and philosophy - twin passions that have complemented one another throughout his blazing career as a theoretical physicist. As his website bio is careful to state, "His main contributions to research so far are to the field of quantum gravity." He's made contributions in many other fields, including cosmology, quantum mechanics, elementary particle physics and theoretical biology, and is the author of (among other books) The Trouble With Physics, a work that questions the very basis of the prevailing string theory. Taking a step back from work on specific problems in physics, Smolin's work examines the scientific process itself and its place in the world. In all of his three books, Life of the Cosmos, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity and The Trouble with Physics, he wrestles with the philosophical implications of what contemporary physics has shown us to be true. As we come to understand more about how the world works, he asks, how will our worldview change? Smolin is a founding member of and a researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Ontario, Canada (whose Executive Director is 2008 TED Prize winner Neil Turok).