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
Feb 12, 2016
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., reacts to the cheering crowd at his primary night rally Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Trump and Sanders take New Hampshire. Ferguson under fire from the Justice Department. A rocky week on Wall Street. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Feb 12, 2016
Overcast sky surrounds a man as he rests beneath the art sculpture 'Cupid’s Span' Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 at Rincon Park in San Francisco. The Bay area has endured unsettled, rainy weather for a week. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Love in the digital age. Romance, sex and expectations in a time of Tinder, Bumble and OKCupid.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 11, 2016
A sampling of same of the great books author David Denby thinks could help encourage young readers to love books. (National Post)

David Denby on the 24 great books that can bring even today’s kids to reading. And maybe you, too.

 
Feb 11, 2016
In this Oct. 21, 2013, file photo, Vern Lund, president of Liberty Mine in central Mississippi near DeKalb, Miss., holds some of the lignite coal planned for use in the nearby Mississippi Power Co. carbon capture power plant. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

The Supreme Court hits the brakes on the heart of President Obama’s push to fight global warming. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #9: Remedy Or Replica?
Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016

Jack Beatty offers one last note from New Hampshire, and looks beyond to the primary races yet to come in both parties.

More »
Comment
 
Tom Ashbrook’s Note From New Hampshire
Tuesday, Feb 9, 2016

Fresh off the New Hampshire Presidential Primary results, host Tom Ashbrook reflects on his trip to New Hampshire, and on what comes next in the race to the White House.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment