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Physics On The Fringe

Physics on the fringe. The exotic history of amateur explanations of the universe.

A plasma ball. (Wysz/Flickr)

A plasma ball. (Wysz/Flickr)

Late at night, while you’re asleep, guys with no PhDs sit around trying to figure out the mysteries of the universe. Guys like Jim Carter in his trailer court on the Green River Gorge in Washington State. Doing physics on the fringe. Ever since Copernicus, science has moved in on religion to explain the cosmos.

To frame and map reality. To some ordinary folks, that is too important to leave to a priesthood of science stars. So they dig in. With some very wild ideas. Are they wrong?

This hour On Point: physics on the fringe, and the exotic realm of amateur explanations of the universe.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Margaret Wertheim, author of “Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything.”

C Segment: How The Hippies Saved Physics

David Kaiser, physicist and science historian, head of the “Science, Technology, and Society,” program at MIT. He’s the author of How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival.

Margaret Wertheim's TED talk

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