Peter Galison: Time of Physics, Time of Art

Network Node: 
Thu., May. 2, 2013, 4:30pm

Time of Physics, Time of Art
Peter Galison, Harvard University
May 2 2013, 4:30pm
Robert McEwen Auditorium, Schulich building, School of Business

Abstract: In the standard picture of the history of special relativity, Henri Poincaré's and Albert Einstein's reformulation of simultaneity is considered a quasi-philosophical intervention, a move made possible by his dis-connection from the standard physics of the day. Meanwhile, Einstein's engagement at the Patent Office (or Poincare¹s in the Bureau of Longitude) enter the story as lowly day jobs irrelevant to fundamental work on the nature of the world. I have argued, on the contrary, that the all-too material and the most abstract notions of time cross in essential ways. In a collaboration with the artist William Kentridge ("The Refusal of Time") we explored this intersection, pushing on history, physics, and philosophy into a more associative-imaginative register. This talk is an account of this complex of problems at the boundary of art and physics history.

This is the keynote for the Materialities: Objects and Idioms in Historical Studies of Science and Technology conference.