The End of Physics as We Knew It

This event at Blackfriars Hall, Main Aula, Oxford is organised by the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in collaboration with the Humane Philosophy Project, with sponsorship from the John Templeton Foundation and the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Warsaw. The event is free and open to the public; refreshments will be provided.


The End of Physics as We Knew It

Jean-Pierre Lasota
Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris; and the
Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.

Blackfriars Hall, Main Aula, Oxford


Contemporary fundamental physics is in crisis. On the one hand, astronomical observations show that we don't know what 96% of the Universe is made of; high energy experiments keep confirming the validity of the Standard Model of elementary particles but provide no clue as to what the unknown "dark" components could be. On the other hand, the mathematically impressive "theory of everything" that now dominates theoretical fundamental physics is unable to make any verifiable predictions at energies accessible to our civilisation, which makes the plan for new, more powerful accelerators rather questionable. However, the rest of physics is in splendid health and there has been amazing progress in quantum optics, nano-physics, solid state physics, etc. This lecture will present these problems of contemporary physics in a historical context and try to evaluate their impact on the future of scientific research in general.

JEAN-PIERRE LASOTA is CNRS Emeritus Research Director at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris and Professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Author or co-author of more than 250 scientific articles, he has worked mainly on problems of relativistic and high-energy astrophysics and the structure and evolution of close binary systems, in particular on accretion onto black-holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs. For many years he was Director of the Department of Relativistic Astrophysics and Cosmology at the Paris Observatory. During the construction of the gravitational wave detector Virgo he served on its steering committee and later was a member of the EGO Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. From 2002 to 2012 he was scientific advisor for astroparticle physics to the CNRS president, at the French National Institute for the Sciences of the Universe (INSU). In 2012 he received the Felix Robin Award of the French Physical Society. Books: La Science des Trous Noirs (Odile Jacob 2010), Les Ondes Gravitationnelles (with N. Deruelle ; Odile Jacob 2018; Polish translation 2019 Prószyński Media), Czy Wielki Wybuch był Głośny (with K. Głowacka; Prószyński Media, 2017).