90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
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
Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 31, 2014
Nurse Kaci Hickox, right, and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine State Trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.  (AP)

Quarantines and Ebola. An exploding rocket. Apple’s CEO comes out. Hawaiian lava flows. Midterms in the home stretch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Oct 31, 2014
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) and Sauncho Smilax (Beninico del Toro) share a drink in a scene from the upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Inherent Vice," an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment)

From “Interstellar” to “Into the Woods.” The biggest and best movies of the fall and holiday seasons. What to see, what to skip.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 30, 2014
Soylent is a new meal-replacement substance meant to offer a complete nutritional alternative to traditional food. (Courtesy Soylent)

Soylent is a grey smoothie the consistency of pancake batter that claims it can replace all your food. On a crowded planet, is this the future of food? Plus: what does the Antares rocket crash mean for private space travel?

 
Oct 30, 2014
Realtor Helen Hertz stands in front of one of her listings in Cleveland Heights, Ohio Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Hertz, a real estate agent for more than three decades, has seen firsthand what has happened to the market in the wake of the recession and foreclosure crisis. (AP)

Home ownership rates are at a 20-year low. Millennials and more aren’t buying. We’ll look at what American’s think now about owning a home.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: October 31, 2014
Friday, Oct 31, 2014

We tumble for ya, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Tuco the Massachusetts K-9 Unit puppy in training.

More »
Comment
 
Awards Season 2014: The Movies Worth Your Time
Friday, Oct 31, 2014

What movies should you watch before 2014 comes to a close? Our critics offer their picks for the movies of the season right here.

More »
Comment
 
A Bit More On The History Of Quarantine
Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

So this whole quarantine thing — why to do it, when to do it, and when to just say no.

More »
Comment