Annual Alpheus Smith Lecture



The 58th Annual Alpheus W. Smith Lecture, October 20, 2020


Sylvester James Gates, Jr.

Brown Theoretical Physics Center Director, Ford Foundation Professor of Physics,

Affiliate Professor of Mathematics, and Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Brown University


3:30-5pm Seminar on Zoom

My Journey Thinking About Racism & STEM Disciplines 

Abstract: The worldwide response of moral revulsion triggered by the broad dissemination of a video showing the extrajudicial execution of Mr. George Floyd (as the crescendo to far too many such occurrences) has compelled even the organizers of the ‘Strings 2020’ conference to engage me in this conversation for their global cyberspace attendees.  Thus, I feel a duty to respond.  


8:00 pm Webinar

How Thinking Like A Geneticist Helped Me  Solve A 25 Year-Old Einstein-Type Problem In String Theory.

Abstract:  Imagine the world's smartest physicist made a mistake in a string theory calculation, while being observed by aliens in a passing starship.  If the aliens are to communicate a helpful comment,  the earth-bound physicist must account for Relativity and Quantum Theories simultaneously.  For over two decades, the resolution to this puzzle was unknown.  Using ideas from geneticists, to sort through 4,294,967,296 functions, led to a solution in the summer of 2020.