Sunday, September 15, 2013

60 Seconds on Measurement vs. Theory in all the Sciences

At Penn we have something of a unique tradition, an ongoing series of "60-Second Lectures." Four Penn profs speak each semester, outdoors, at noon on four consecutive Wednesdays. And yes, each of the four lectures is capped at 60 seconds.

60-Second Lectures sound insane. But somehow they work. They're on Locust Walk, the massively-trodden main drag. There's a podium and lights and a microphone, and some people actually stop to listen, and it's all quite an entertaining spectacle, even if 60-Second Cage Fights would be much better. The video dudes record it, and then it's posted for the masses in Penn's online archives as well as its Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo pages. (Vimeo? Who knows...) Then the video goes completely viral, catapulting the 60-Second Lecturer to unprecedented heights of global intellectual celebrity. At least that's what the Dean's Office tells me. Or something like that. Anyway, you surely see through it. Only a complete sucker would agree to attempt a 60-Second Lecture. Yes, that's right, I agreed.

But seriously, the 60-Second Lectures are a wonderful Penn tradition, and I'm delighted to contribute my minute's worth. My title will be "Measurement vs. Theory in all the Sciences." Join us if you're in Philadelphia. It's Wednesday, September 18, 11:55 sharp. (If you're more than a minute late, you'll miss everything!) It's at Stiteler Plaza, 37th and Locust Walk, unless the cheering throng exceeds 35,000, in which case we move to Franklin Field.