Question Reality!

Dartmouth offers a free MOOC taught by astro-physicist Marcelo Gleiser

One of the cooler benefits of living in the Upper Valley is that our community includes a range of people from earthy organic farmers to world-class astrophysicists. One of the latter, Dartmouth's Marcelo Gleiser, will be starting a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) later this month that will explore the biggest of the big questions—What is reality? The class will explore how physics and philosophy have changed humans' perspective on the nature of the universe, matter and mind. Take a look at the promo video to understand the full scope of the class. 

Gleiser is something of a rarity in his field—he is able to explain his work to the general public. And he's not strictly a big-science guy. His book, A Tear at the Edge of Creation, challenges the notion of ever finding a unifying theory of the Universe. Instead he posits the idea that "human understanding of the world is forever a work in progress."

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To that end Gleiser leads Dartmouth's Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement. The focus of the institute is to foster dialogue between the sciences and the humanities in academic and public spheres by asking these fundamental questions:

  • Is there free will? 
  • Will we become immortal?
  • What is the nature of reality?
  • Are there limits to knowledge? What are they?
  • Can/Should science and faith coexist in the 21st century? 
  • Can science explain the origin of the Universe? 
  • Can we find meaning in a purposeless Universe? 
  • Is the Universe purposeless? 
  • How will science and technology redefine our humanity? 
  • Can science be a path toward increased spirituality?

As an example of the institute's work, Gleiser will travel to San Francisco in February to moderate a dialogue on the nature of reality between Alan Wallace, a Buddhist scholar trained by the Dalai Lama, and Sean Carroll, a world-renowned theoretical physicist and best-selling author. 


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