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340 N. Campus Dr., Fayetteville, AR

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Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 5:15 p.m.
Gearhart Hall Auditorium (GEAR 26)

Since the invention of smartphones, we have unconsciously been acquainted with key military technology. The map in your pocket does not just account for time spent in traffic: it relies on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity for accuracy. David Kaiser, Germeshausen professor of the history of science and professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, navigates an early debate among physicists and engineers on how to best incorporate relativity in the Global Positioning System (GPS).  

Kaiser is the author of several award-winning books about modern physics. His most recent book, Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World, was honored among the best books of the year by Physics Today and Physics World. Kaiser will offer new insights on the time warp between satellites in space and clocks ticking on earth in “Secret Clocks,” the inaugural lecture of the Palmer Hotz Endowed Lecture Series in the History of Science.   

“I am deeply honored to be able to deliver the inaugural Hotz Lecture,” said Kaiser, “and delighted that the new series will showcase research in the history of science --- material that reveals how our efforts to understand the world takes shape within the complicated worlds of human affairs. I look forward to visiting with students and colleagues at the University of Arkansas this spring.” 

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, engineers and physicists went back and forth on how best to incorporate Einstein’s general theory of relativity into the emerging technology of GPS. While much of the debate took place behind the scenes, Kaiser will bring the audience along as he reviews military memos, reports and special review sessions documenting the disagreements among theoretical physicists and real-world engineers on how to best apply the theory to modern technology.  

The Palmer Hotz Endowed Lecture Series in the History of Science was established to honor Dr. Palmer Hotz and his dedication to the teaching and practice of science. The series focuses on the history of scientific thought, aiming to foster interdisciplinary dialog. The endowed lecture series brings distinguished speakers and visiting professors to campus to present to and interact with students and faculty.

Event Details

  • Andrew Leda
  • Daniel Johnson
  • Robert Cross

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