Physics and Cosmology Group

Physics and Cosmology Group

Cosmology, or the scientific study of the origin and development of the universe, raises fundamental religious questions: Where did we come from? What or who, if anything, created the universe in the first place? Must some cause be posited to explain the singularity from which our universe arose, or is the universe self-explanatory? Is the notion of God required to explain the lawlikeness of the universe, or to account for its proclivity to produce intelligent life? And what is the final fate of the universe; is the so-called heat death of the universe, or its final collapse into a singularity (the Big Crunch), compatible or incompatible with religious belief? Equally fundamental questions are raised by recent advances in particle physics, quantum physics, chaos theory, and physical chemistry.

Please note: these bios date from the time of the SSQ program. In the time since the program, some of the participants have moved institutions and some have passed away.

John Barrow
University of Cambridge

Dr. Barrow is a professor of Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge. Previously a professor of Astronomy and Director of the Astronomy Centre, University of Sussex, he is the author of more than 240 research papers in cosmology and astrophysics and has authored 10 books. Noted lectureships include the 1989 Gifford Lectures, the Darwin Lecture of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Spinoza Lecture at the University of Amsterdam. He has also lectured at the Vatican Palace. Dr. Barrow's relevant publications include The Left Hand of Creation: The Origin and Evolution of the Expanding Universe, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle and The Artful Universe.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Bath University

Dr. Burnell received her Ph.D. in Radio Astronomy at Cambridge where she was involved in the discovery of Pulsars. This was the beginning of a distinguished career that has included posts at University College, London and the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.Professor Bell Burnell is currently Professor of Physics and former Chair of the Physics Department in the Open University and was Visiting Professor for distinguished teaching at Princeton University. She is recipient of the Oppenheimer prize, the Michelson medal and the Tinsley prize and she has published around 70 scientific papers.

Dr. Khalil Chamcham
Faculté des Sciences, L’Université Hassan II Aïn Chock de Casablanca

Dr. Chamcham lives in Casablanca, Morocco. He received his Doctorate in Nuclear Physics, from the University Claude Bernard, Lyon I, France in 1983 Since 1988 he has organized Morocco's national meetings in Astronomy at the University of Casablanca. He received his second PhD from the University of Sussex, UK in Astrophysics in 1995. Now a Full Professor at the University Hassan II—Ain Chock in Casablanca, he has initiated, for the first time in Morocco, undergraduate and postgraduate curricula in Astronomy and Astrophysics. His research interests include the stability of galactic discs, star formation, chemical evolution of galaxies, and photometric evolution of galaxies. Dr. Chamcham is a Muslim and is currently organizing an International Colloquium on the History of Islamic Astronomy, at the Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Italy.

Dr. Raymond Chiao
University of California, Berkeley

Raymond Y. Chiao was born October 9, 1940 in Hong Kong. He received his B.A. from Princeton University in 1961. After receiving his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965 he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Physics, M.I.T. for two years. Dr. Chiao has been teaching at Berkeley since 1967. He was a Sloan Fellow and is presently a fellow of the American Physical Society and a fellow of the Optical Society of America. His current research interests are Nonlinear and quantum optics, including experiments on faster-than-light optical phenomena. He lives in Oakland, California with his wife and three daughters.

Dr. Ramanath Cowsik
Indian Institute of Astrophysics

The scientific contributions of Professor Ramanath Cowsik encompass theoretical physics, experimental physics and science management. In theoretical physics, his work has been in cosmology-particle physics interface, astrophysics and cosmic rays. He suggested that dark matter in the universe is made up of weakly interacting particles. He has studied the presolar grains of diamonds, rubies and carborundum embedded and preserved in a pristine condition in meteorites to infer the conditions of grain formation in stellar winds and also to estimate by a completely new method the age of the Galaxy to be ~10e14 y. Most recently he explored the great and trans-Himalayan regions to identify a unique site for Optical and IR astronomy in southeastern Ladakh and established the Indian Astronomical Observatory at an altitude of 15,500 ft. He has made wide-ranging contributions to astrophysics with studies of the radiation transport through accretion flows around black holes, particle acceleration in supernova remnants and their evolution as radio sources, origin of pulsar spins and proper motions and the tidal interaction of galaxies. He heads the Gravitation group at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay and is the director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore.

Dr. Pranab Das
Elon College

Dr. Das was born in Boston and did his undergraduate work at Reed College with theses in both theoretical physics and international studies His Ph.D. is from the University of Texas at Austin where he was a member of the Ilya Prigogine Center for Complex Systems. He was the first to show the presence of chaotic dynamics in a very small model neural network and has published several papers in that area His academic work spans the fields of neuroscience, nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory, the physics of granular materials, media studies and the history and the philosophy of science. Dr. Das is currently Chair of the Department of Physics at Elon University. His work there has been supported by many awards and grants including a Templeton Foundation Course Award and other private foundation funding as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. His forthcoming book, Science and Religion: Bridging the Gap, will be released by Wadsworth in 2002. In the popular press, Pranab Das has written scores of newspaper columns and book reviews and is presently at work on two book projects entitled Grappling Titans: The History of Science and Religion and Being Free: Mindfulness, Science and Human Freedom.

Dr. Paul Davies
Macquarie University

Paul Davies was born in London in 1946, and obtained a doctorate from University College London in 1970. He is currently Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University, Sydney. He has held academic appointments at Cambridge and London Universities, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the University of Adelaide and the University of Queensland, although he remains based in South Australia, where he runs a science, media and publishing consultancy called Orion Productions. In addition to his research, Professor Davies is well known as an author, broadcaster and public lecturer. He has written over twenty-five books, both popular and specialist works. In 1995 Davies was awarded the Templeton Prize for progress in religion, the world's largest prize for intellectual endeavour. Paul Davies is married, and has four children.

Books by Paul Davies:
God and the New Physics, Simon & Schuster, 1984. The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe, Simon & Schuster, 1988.
The New Physics, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World, Simon & Schuster, 1993.
About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution, Simon & Schuster, 1996.
Are We Alone? Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life, Basic Books, 1996.
The Last Three Minutes: Conjectures About the Ultimate Fate of the Universe, Basic Books, 1997.
The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life, Simon & Schuster, 1999.
How to Build a Time Machine, Viking Press, 2002.

Cyril Domb
Bar Ilan University

Dr. Domb is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Bar Ilan University in Israel. Since 1995, Professor Domb has published numerous articles in the area of science and religion which have appeared in a variety of books and journals in different countries. Dr. Domb currently edits B.B.D., a journal published by Bar-Ilan University with articles in Hebrew and English in the area of Torah and Scholarship.

George F. R. Ellis
of Capetown

Dr. Ellis is a professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Capetown. His professional research work concentrates on relativity theory and cosmology and he has published over 200 scientific papers and several books including The Large scale Structure of Space Time, which he co-authored with Steven Hawking. He published several papers on the relationship between science and religion and is active on several Quaker committees and boards.

Bernard d'Espagnat
Universite de Paris XI

Dr. d'Espagnat is Professor Emeritus at the University Paris XI where he was the former Director of the Theoretical Physics Laboratory. He is a member of the French National Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. Former student of Louis Leprince Ringuet, he also studied with N. Bohr, E. Fermi and L. de Broglie, he was the first theoretical physicist nominated at the CERN in Geneva, CH, and is considered one of the world's specialists of non-locality and the philosophical implications of Fundamental Physics. He is the author of several books on the philosophical implications of discoveries in science, including "Thinking Science" and "The Search for Reality".

Mehdi Golshani
Sharif University

Dr. Golshani is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Golshani is currently head of the Department of Basic Sciences for the Academy of Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is a member of both the Philosophy of Science Association at Michigan State University and the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology. Golshani's other research interests include particle physics, cosmology and foundations of quantum mechanics.

Bruno Guiderdoni
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris

Dr. Guiderdoni is a Director of Research at the Paris Institute of Astrophysics. His main research field is in galaxy formation and evolution. He has published more than 100 papers and has organized several international conferences on these issues. He is one of the referent experts on Islam in France and has published 50 papers on Islamic theology and mystics. He was in charge of a French television program called "Knowing Islam" from 1993 to 1999, and is now the director of the Islamic Institute for Advanced Studies.

Muzaffar Iqbal
for Islam and Science

Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal is the founder-president of the Center for Islam and Science (CIS), Canada, and Regional Director for the Muslim World for the Science and Religion Course Program (SRCP) of the CTNS. Dr. Iqbal received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada and has held academic and research positions at several universities. Between 1991-96, he worked as Director of Scientific Information for the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) and later as Director of International Cooperation at the Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS). He is the author and editor of several books, including, Science in Islamic Polity in the Twenty-first Century (ed., 1995), Health and Medical Profile of the Muslim World (ed., 1993), Possible Strategy for Energy Mixes in the Muslim World (Co-ed., 1994), and Mineral Profile of the Muslim World (ed., 1995). His latest books are: Islam and Science (Ashgate, 2002) and God, Life and the Cosmos: Christian and Islamic Perspectives (Co-ed. Ashgate, 2002).

Andrei Linde
Stanford University

Dr. Linde is a Professor of Physics at Stanford University. One of the authors of the inflationary universe scenario, he demonstrated that the energy released during the phase transitions from a strongly supercooled vacuum state may be sufficient to transform a cold universe to a hot one. Linde has written 150 papers on particle physics, phase transitions and cosmology, as well as two books on particle physics and quantum cosmology. He has been awarded the Lomonosov prize of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and he was a Morris Loeb lecturer at Harvard University.

Thierry Magnin
Ecoles des Mines de Saint Etienne

Dr. Magnin is a professor of Quantum Physics at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines of Saint-Etienne in France and director of a research laboratory in physics of materials (URA CNRS). A specialist of physics of solids, he has published over 200 articles and 5 books in that area. Dr. Magnin holds PhDs in science and theology with a thesis on the relationship between Science and Theology. He is also a priest and the author of several books on the relationship between science and faith, including Between Science and Religion and What God for a Scientific World? and over 30 articles in this area.

Tsevi Mazeh
Tel Aviv University

Dr. Mazeh a professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the director of the The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute of Astronomy at Tel Aviv University. His research expertise is in binary stars, brown dwarfs, the search for substellar objects and the search for extra-solar planets. He is chairman of a left-wing Orthodox movement in Israel which organizes for peace on the belief that Judaism commands that "we compromise and give away for the sake of peace."

Basarab Nicolescu
Le Centre Internationl de Recherches et Etudes Transdisciplinaires

Dr. Nicolescu was born in 1942 in Ploiesti, Romania. He received his Ph.D. at Pierre et Marie Curie University, Paris in 1972. A specialist in the theory of elementary particle physics, Basarab Nicolescu is the author of more than a hundred articles in leading international scientific journals, has made numerous contributions to science anthologies and participated in several dozen French radio documentaries on science. He has collaborated for many years with G. F. Chew, former Dean of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley and founder of the Bootstrap Theory. They have jointly published several articles on the topological framework of Bootstrap Theory. Basarab Nicolescu is a major advocate of the transdisciplinary reconciliation between Science and the Humanities. He is the founding President of the International Center for Transdisciplinary Research and Studies (CIRET).

Dr. Aileen A. O'Donoghue
St. Lawrence University

Dr. Aileen A. O'Donoghue is an Associate Professor of Physics at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, USA. Born in Denver, Colorado, Dr. O'Donoghue graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. She then went on to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology where she earned her M.S. with a study of comets at the Joint Observatory for Cometary Research and her Ph. D. with a study of galaxies at the Very Large Array Radio Telescope. She joined the faculty of St. Lawrence University as she was finishing her Ph.D. and was granted tenure there in 1993. In 1995 she was a visiting professor and scientist at Cornell University where she became involved with optical observations of galaxies, funded by the Judge Francis Bergan Career Development Award in Astrophysics, awarded by the Dudley Observatory in Schenectady, New York. She returned to the VLA for four months in 1996 to continue her galaxy studies in radio. Aileen is also an Oblate of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiu, New Mexico and a commissioned lay minister in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, New York.

Dr. William D. Phillips
National Institute of Standards & Technology and University of Maryland
Nobel Laureate

William D. Phillips was born in 1948, in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and attended public schools in Pennsylvania. He received the B.S. in Physics from Juniata College (a small, church-related, liberal arts college in Huntingdon, PA) in 1970. He did his graduate research at MIT with Daniel Kleppner and received his Ph.D. in 1976. After two years as a Chaim Weizmann postdoctoral fellow at MIT, he joined the staff of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (then the National Bureau of Standards) in 1978. He is a NIST Fellow, leader of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group in the Atomic Physics Division of NIST's Physics Laboratory, and is a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1997, Dr. Phillips shared the Nobel Prize in Physics "for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light." Bill Phillips, his wife and two daughters reside in Gaithersburg, MD, and are members of Fairhaven United Methodist Church, a small, culturally diverse congregation.

John Polkinghorne
Cambridge University

Dr. Polkinghorne is an Anglican priest, the President of Queens' College, Cambridge University, and former Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge. Polkinghorne resigned his chair in physics to study for the Anglican priesthood. After completing his theological studies and serving at parishes, he returned to Cambridge. During the same time period, he wrote a series of books on the compatibility of religion and science. These include Science and Creation, and most recently, Science and Providence, and his Gifford Lectures, The Faith of a Physicist. Dr. Polkinghorne was the recipient of the 2002 Templeton Prize.

Joel Primack
University of California, Santa Cruz

A professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Dr. Primack contributed to the creation of the "Standard Model" of particle physics. He began working in cosmology in 1980 and is today considered a leader in particle astrophysics. He is one of the main inventors and developers of the theory of Cold Dark Matter, which has become the basis of the standard modern picture of structure formation in the universe. He is currently using supercomputers to simulate and visualize the evolution of the universe under various assumptions, and comparing the predictions of these theories to the observational data. Elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, he is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and received the Physics and Society Award of the American Physical Society.

Rustum Roy
Pennsylvania State University

Rustum Roy is a leading materials scientist at Pennsylvania State University. He was raised a Christian in his native India. Rustum Roy has wide-ranging interests in crystal chemistry and mineral synthesis. His recent work has focused on radwaste composites, chemical vapor deposition of diamonds, and diphasic gels. Roy was the prime mover in the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) movement, and recently authored The Interdisciplinary Imperative: Interactive Research and Education, Still an Elusive Goal in Academia. He has also been intensely involved in reforming religious institutions, locally, nationally, and worldwide towards greater inclusivity, becoming spokesman for a "radical pluralist" integration among the world's religions and cultures.

Dr. Marlan O. Scully
Texas A&M University

Marlan Scully is the Herschel Burgess Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics at Texas A&M University and the Director of the Center for Theoretical Physics. He received his B.S. in Engineering Physics from the University of Wyoming in 1961 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University in 1963 and 1966, respectively. Scully joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 1992. In addition, he has held a position at the Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik since 1980. Scully has made outstanding research accomplishments over his long career in the areas of quantum optics, laser physics and bioengineering, and still continues to make significant accomplishments today. In addition to writing the first definitive textbook on laser physics, Scully has been published in non-technical scientific literature, including Scientific American, Physics Today, Nature, Science and Science News. Scully is dedicated to the promotion of science to public school teachers and has demonstrated this through a summer school program he organizes each year with a colleague. He has also organized a winter colloquium in his field for the past 30 years. Scully was recently appointed to the American Physical Society Task Force on Informing the Public.

William Stoeger
Vatican Observatory Research Group

Dr. Stoeger is a Jesuit priest widely known for his work in theology and science. He is Adjunct Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona, and Staff Astronomer for the Vatican observatory. Stoeger's recent research has focused on projects in theoretical cosmology, with an eye on building more adequate connections between theory and cosmologically relevant astronomical observations and observations of the microwave background radiation.

E. C. George Sudarshan
University of Texas

Dr. Sudarshan is a Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to this he was a member of the Rochester and Syracuse University faculties. Sudarshan's main research interest is Particle Physics. In 1957, he was a co-discoverer of the Universal V-A Interaction. He also formulated the "Optical Equivalence Theorem" which established a bridge between classical coherence theory and quantum optics.

Trinh Xuan Thuan
University of Virginia

Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan is a native of Hanoi, Vietnam. He obtained his Bachelor of Sciences in Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1970 and his Ph.D in Astrophysics at Princeton University in 1974. Since 1976 he has been a professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia. He specializes in extragalactic astronomy and has written many articles on primordial nucleosynthesis and galaxy formation and evolution. Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan has written several books destined for the general public, in particular, The Secret Melody (Oxford University Press, 1994), The Birth of the Universe (Discoveries, H.N. Abrams, 1993) and Chaos and Harmony (Oxford University Press, 2000), all best-sellers in France, in which he discusses the profound changes in world view brought about by modern scientific discoveries, and the possibility of a creative principle which fine-tunes the properties of the universe at its birth, so as to allow for the emergence of consciousness. His latest book, The Quantum and the Lotus' (Crown, 2001), also a best-seller in France, is a dialogue between him and French-Tibetan monk Matthieu Ricard on the many remarkable connections between the ancient teachings of Buddhism and the findings of recent science.

Relevant Publications include:
The Secret Melody,Oxford University Press (1988)
The Birth of the Universe, Abrams Press (1993)
Chaos and Harmony, Oxford University Press (2001)

Charles Townes
University of California, Berkeley

In 1964 Dr. Townes became a Nobel Laureate for his role in inventing the laser and the maser. Physics Professor at the University of California in Berkeley, Townes's principal scientific work has been in microwave spectroscopy, molecular and nuclear structure, quantum electronics, radio astronomy, and infrared astronomy. He was one of the initiators of high-resolution microwave spectroscopy and its use in detailed examination of molecular structure and nuclear moments. His work was essential to enable the first discovery of complex molecules in interstellar space in the late 1960s. He initiated the field of quantum electronics, building the first maser at Colombia University. Since the late 1970s, Townes has been occupied primarily with infrared astronomy. He is also very active in the field of the interactions between Science and Religion.