David Kaiser is a truly unique scholar: he is simultaneously a physics researcher and a historian of science whose writing beautifully melds the past and future of science.
As a historian, he studies mostly 20th-century physics, and in particular the history of quantum mechanics, Feynman diagrams, physics in the counterculture era, and much more. As a physicist, he studies particle physics and theories of cosmology, focused mostly on the early expansion of the universe.
In this New Books Network podcast, I speak to David Kaiser about his new book, Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World(University of Chicago Press, 2020). It’s a collection of essays, many of them adapted from magazine and newspaper articles he’s penned over the years.
The book paints intimate portraits of some incredible luminaries—Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, and Paul Dirac, among many others—explains how physics has changed as a discipline in the last century, and demonstrates how science is inseparable from its social context. David Kaiser is an incredible ambassador for physics and its history, and it was a delight to speak with him.
David Kaiser is the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Matthew Jordan is an instructor at McMaster University, where he teaches courses on AI and the history of science. You can follow him on Twitter @mattyj612 or his website matthewleejordan.com.