Lee Smolin

Lee Smolin
Lee Smolin
Physicist, Perimeter Institute; Author, Time Reborn

"What is space and what is time? This is what the problem of quantum gravity is about. In general relativity, Einstein gave us not only a theory of gravity but a theory of what space and time are--a theory that overthrew the previous Newtonian conception of space and time. The problem of quantum gravity is how to combine the understanding of space and time we have from relativity theory with the quantum theory, which also tells us something essential and deep about nature."

LEE SMOLIN is a founding and senior faculty member at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. He is also Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo and has just been appointed to an adjunct position in the Department of Philosophy of the University of Toronto. He is the author of more than 140 scientific papers and has made major contributions to the quantum theory of gravity, being a co-inventor of loop quantum gravity and deformed special relativity. 

He has also worked in cosmology and is the inventor of a theory called cosmological natural selection, which applies a Darwinian methodology to the question of how the laws of physics are chosen. He has research interests also in elementary particle physics, the foundations of quantum mechanics, astrophysics, theoretical biology and economics. 

Smolin has written three popular books, The Life of the Cosmos (1997),Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (2001), and The Trouble with Physics(2006), which explore the philosophical ramifications of developments in contemporary physics and cosmology.

Smolin is an engaging and experienced public lecturer, who has given talks to a wide variety of audiences in North America and Europe. His popular essays have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, Time Magazine, Scientific American, Forbes, Update, The Times Higher Education Supplement, Prospect Magazine, New Scientist, American Scientist, Discover, Physics Today and Physics World, among others.

"It is very good that Stu Kauffman and Lee are making this serious attempt to save a notion of time, since I think the issue of timelessness is central to the unification of general relativity with quantum mechanics. The notion of time capsules is still certainly only a conjecture. However, as Lee admits, it has proven very hard to show that the idea is definitely wrong. Moreover, the history of physics has shown that it is often worth taking disconcerting ideas seriously, and I think timelessness is such a one. At the moment, I do not find Lee and Stu's arguments for time threaten my position too strongly."

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