David Kaiser

Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science (STS), Professor of Physics (Department of Physics), MacVicar Faculty Fellow

E51-179 617-452-3173

Recent Honors & Awards


George Sarton Memorial Lecturer, plenary address sponsored by the History of Science Society, delivered at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.


History of Science Society, Davis Prize for best book aimed at a general audience, awarded for How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival.


Physics World magazine, Book of the Year awarded to How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT's highest honor for excellence in undergraduate teaching.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Frank E. Perkins Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising, for demonstrating "unbounded compassion and dedication towards students."


American Physical Society, Fellow, elected for "outstanding publications that combine technical mastery of twentieth-century physics with a deep knowledge of recent developments in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science."

Recent Articles


D. Kaiser and D. Rickles, “The Price of Gravity: Private Patronage and the Transformation of Gravitational Physics after World War II,”, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 48 (2018): 338-379.


D. Kaiser, "The Origins of Physics Today", Physics Today 71 (May 2018): 32-38.


D. Rauch et al., "Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars," Physical Review Letters 121 (2018): 080403.


J. Formaggio, D. Kaiser, M. Murskyj, and T. Weiss, "Violation of the Leggett-Garg inequality in neutrino oscillations," Phys. Rev. Lett. 117: 050402, arXiv:1602.00041.


D. Kaiser, "Thomas Kuhn and the Psychology of Scientific Revolutions," in Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions at Fifty, ed. Lorraine Daston and Robert J. Richards (University of Chicago Press, 2016), 71-95.


D. Kaiser, "From blackboards to bombs," Nature 523 (30 July 2015): 523-525.

David Kaiser is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and also Professor of Physics in MIT’s Department of Physics. He completed an A.B. in physics at Dartmouth College and Ph.D.s in physics and the history of science at Harvard University. Kaiser’s historical research focuses on the development of physics in the United States during the Cold War, looking at how the discipline has evolved at the intersection of politics, culture, and the changing shape of higher education. His physics research focuses on early-universe cosmology, working at the interface of particle physics and gravitation.

Kaiser is author of the award-winning book, Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (University of Chicago Press, 2005), which traces how Richard Feynman’s idiosyncratic approach to quantum physics entered the mainstream. His latest book, How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (W. W. Norton, 2011), charts the early history of Bell’s theorem and quantum entanglement and was named “Book of the Year” by Physics World magazine. His edited volumes include Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (MIT Press, 2005), Becoming MIT: Moments of Decision (MIT Press, 2010), and Science and the American Century, co-edited with Sally Gregory Kohlstedt (University of Chicago Press, 2013). He is presently working on two books about gravity: a physics textbook on gravitation and cosmology co-authored with Alan Guth; and a historical study of Einstein’s general relativity over the course of the twentieth century. He is also completing a book entitled American Physics and the Cold War Bubble (University of Chicago Press, in preparation). Kaiser served for several years as an editor of the journal, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. He is presently Chair of the Editorial Board of MIT Press, and also serves on the advisory boards for Nautilus and Undark magazines.

Kaiser’s work has been featured in such venues as Nature, Science, and Scientific American; the New York Times, Harper’s, the Huffington Post, and the London Review of Books; and on National Public Radio, BBC Radio, and NOVA television programs. In 2010, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Other honors include the Pfizer Prize for best book in the field (2007) and the Davis Prize for best book aimed at a general audience (2013) from the History of Science Society; and the LeRoy Apker Award for best undergraduate physics student from the American Physical Society (1993). In 2012 Kaiser was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT’s highest honor for excellence in undergraduate teaching. That same year, he also received the Frank E. Perkins Award for excellence in mentoring graduate students.

Recent Books


Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture

David Kaiser

Groovy Science explores the experimentation and eclecticism that marked countercultural science and technology during one of the most colorful periods of American history.


Science and the American Century: Readings from “Isis”

David Kaiser

The twentieth century was one of astonishing change in science, especially as pursued in the United States. Science and the American Century offers some of the most significant contributions to the study of the history of science, technology, and medicine during the twentiety century, all drawn from the pages of the journal Isis.

View All