Sir Ken Robinson – Changing Paradigms

In 1998 Sir Ken Robinson chaired a commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education(The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999. For twelve years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and in 2003, he received a knighthood for his services to the arts. He speaks to audiences throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education in the new global economies.In this lecture, given a couple of years ago at the RSA in London, creativity and education expert Sir Ken Robinson tackles the question: how do we make change happen in education and how do we make it last?

Roger Penrose: Aeons Before the Big Bang

Roger Penrose

Sir Roger Penrose gave this lecture in December 2009 at Coventry University in which he describes a proposal which posits a succession of universe aeons prior to our own. The expansion of the universe never reverses in this scheme, but claims Penrose the space-time geometry is made consistent through a novel geometrical conception.

Click on the cover to read my review of Penrose’s Cycles of Time

Marcus Chown on 10 Bonkers Things about the Universe

A talk by Marcus Chown, the man who gave us the award winning solar system app for the iPad, on his 10 bonkers things about the universe.

Richard Feynman – Take The World From Another Point of View

Here’s another classic Feynman interview. From the early 70s when Feynman was in his mid-50s, Take The World From Another Point of View was filmed some years before his celebrated Horizon interview that I posted here a few weeks ago:

Ed Witten on String Theory

Ed Witten

Here’s what TIME magazine said about Ed Witten back in 2004 when he was chosen as one of its 100 most influential people:

Albert Einstein labored unsuccessfully for decades to create a theory that would merge relativity and quantum physics into one tidy mathematical package. But where Einstein failed, physicists may finally be on the verge of success, largely thanks to Edward Witten, generally considered the greatest theoretical physicist in the world. “Ed is unique,” says John Schwarz, a theorist at Caltech, “the kind of person who comes along once a century.”

The tall, thin, soft-spoken Witten, 52, didn’t even set out to be a scientist. He majored in history at Brandeis and originally planned to be a journalist but ended up getting a Ph.D. in physics instead. By the mid-1980s, some of his colleagues had decided that the answer to Einstein’s failed dream was to treat the building blocks of matter–quarks, photons, electrons and such–as minuscule, vibrating strings of energy rather than as particles. But superstring theory was considered no more than an esoteric and eccentric subspecialty until Witten (by this time a full professor at Princeton) turned his attention to it. Before long he was the dominant player in the field, and string theory was the hottest area of physics. Many of the big developments in string physics–the kind of ideas that break through theoretical logjams and bring everyone to a deeper level of understanding–can be traced to Witten. “Most other people have made one or two such contributions,” says Juan Maldacena, who, like Witten, is at Einstein’s old stomping ground, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. “Ed has made 10 or 15.”

What sort of contributions? Don’t ask, unless twistor-space methods and Yang-Mills theories are your cup of tea. But if Witten’s string theory is right, it means that the quest Einstein began to find the ultimate laws of the universe may nearly be over. The proof, however, may still be many years off. Witten once called string theory “a bit of 21st century physics that somehow dropped into the 20th century.” If so, Witten clearly has the 21st century mind to handle it.

Enough said. Here’s Witten on string theory: