National Science Week – Lawrence Krauss

The final Science Week event I attended this year was a lecture titled ‘Life, the universe and nothing’, given by American physicist Lawrence Krauss. It was held in the beautiful Capitol Theatre on Swanston Street.

Krauss is an engaging and enigmatic speaker with a healthy dose of likable self-deprecation. He spoke effortlessly on the topic of cosmology for over an hour, making use of examples his audience could relate to and analogies that were easy to visualise. As the event was also part of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, I suspect that some of the material went straight over the heads of some audience members. Though having said that, Krauss has the rare and exceptional talent of presenting scientific material in such an accessible way that any attendee who was not so scientifically inclined before the lecture, would have not only learned something, but probably felt compelled to delve a little into some of the topics broached in the lecture.

The crux of the lecture was the lovely paradox that we are only able to observe the universe we live in, because the universe is in such a condition that enables us (the observers) to exist! I feel this is summed up perfectly by Krauss himself in a quote from one of his New Scientist columns, debunking the (usually religious) position that somehow finding out what things are made of and how things work makes them LESS amazing.

“It is a far grander kind of imagination that is needed to fathom the real universe.”

In coming to his conclusion Krauss touched on Newton, Einstein, string theory, Hubble, Star Trek, the Large Hadron Collider and made several allusions to his atheism.

I’d like to heartily thank National Science Week, the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, the Finkel Foundation, Science in Public and anyone else who was involved in bringing Lawrence Krauss to Australia.

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