Not the Higgs Boson: Physics on the fringe and what mainstream science can learn from outsiders

Margaret Wertheim

In July this year the world went "Higgs mad" when scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs boson, a particle that plays a crucial role in the Standard Model of physics. If the Higgs hadn't been found it was beginning to look as if major parts of theoretical physics would have to be rethought. Even now its existence has to be confirmed. Yet with or without the Higgs, a growing number of dissident theorists believe the very foundations of physics are in need of renovation. Since CERN's announcement 'outsider physicists' have gathered at three international conferences to discuss alternative theories of reality. Many of these outsiders have little or no scientific training yet all are driven by a conviction that they can unlock the true secrets of the universe. Their efforts constitute a scientific parallel to 'outsider art' and a radically other conception of how science might be conducted. In this talk, acclaimed science writer Margaret Wertheim, author of the new book "Physics on the Fringe", will discuss 'outsider physics' as a social and cultural phenomenon. What are the similarities between outsider science and outsider art? What are the differences? And why does the subject matter in the context of science today?

Margaret's talk will be hosted by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow at the University of Sydney Physics Foundation.

Margaret Wertheim

Margaret Wertheim is a science writer with degrees in physics and mathematics. She has written for the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian, and is the author of Pythagoras' Trousers and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace. In her pioneering work in new methods of science communication, she founded the nonprofit Institute For Figuring, through which she organized the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, a touring exhibition at the intersection of science and art.

Gleebooks will have copies of Physics on the Fringe available for sale at the venue, and Margaret Wertheim will sign books after her presentation.