U of T news

Science at the Movies: the physics of Star Trek

Theoretical astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss on First Contact

Arizona State University professor Lawrence Krauss (photo courtesy Lawrence Krauss)

Renowned theoretical astrophysicist and scholar Lawrence Krauss will appear at the University of Toronto’s inaugural Science at the Movies screening Feb. 26, 2013.

Hosted by Professor Ray Jayawardhana, Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics and Senior Advisor on Science Engagement to U of T President David Naylor, the event features a screening of the film Star Trek: First Contact and a question and answer session moderated by science journalist Dan Falk. (You can purchase tickets here.)

Krauss’s book, The Physics of Star Trek, was released in November of 1995 and sold over 250,000 copies in the U.S. A national bestseller, it was serialized in the November 1995 issue of Wired, translated into 14 languages, and was the basis of TV productions in the United States and Britain. His book, Beyond Star Trek, appeared in November 1997 and has appeared in 5 foreign editions.

Krauss is also the author of more than 300 scientific publications. His contributions to the teaching and understanding of science and physics have won every major award from the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Institute of Physics Science Writing, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Today, the critically acclaimed author and scientific commentator is called upon by media outlets around the world for everything from debunking creationism to explaining meteors that crash in Russia.

U of T News spoke with Krauss about his work, the importance of science engagement, and a glimpse of what the audience can expect.

Tell us a bit about what you’re working on right now.

I am working, as usual, on a wide variety of things. Scientifically, I am exploring how to detect gravitational waves from the beginning of time, what the nature of the dark energy dominating the Universe is, and how to detect dark matter, among other things.

I am very excited about directing the Origins Project, which explores everything from the beginning of the Origin of the Universe to the Origin of Consciousness. I am beginning a new book project, and am very excited about the new feature film we just completed, The Unbelievers, which should be out sometime this year.

Your appearance at the upcoming Science at the Movies event is part of the science engagement campaign at U of T. Why is science engagement important?

Science is a central part of our existence, and governs not only modern industrial societies, but is also central to our culture.  It is a shame that the most remarkable intellectual achievements of humanity are too often removed from the general public.  Like great art, music, and literature, science enriches our understanding of ourselves.  It is vital to engage the public more broadly.

What should audience members expect at this event?

Lots of fun and a wild ride for your imagination.

Has science in the movies advanced much beyond The Physics of Star Trek?

Not really... although the blackboard on The Big Bang Theory is updated weekly by a real scientist!