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Relationship with Einstein (Part 2): God's dice


Relationship with Einstein (Part 1): Einstein and Spinoza
John Wheeler Scientist
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Einstein to me was a model of what a search means, and I'm using his own word "search", for a completely harmonious account of existence. It's almost theological in his character. And I recall the great theologian, Hans King, the great Professor of Theology at the University of Tübingen, telling me that that was the part that appealed to him in Einstein, his theological bent, and his admiration, Einstein's admiration for Spinoza. He told me that it affected Einstein's view of cosmology, that Spinoza had been excommunicated from the synagogue in Amsterdam. Why excommunicated? Well, because he had denied the biblical account of creation - a big bang, you might say, day one, day two - the various days of creation. Because where would the clock sit in all the emptiness before creation to tell the universe to begin? That was Spinoza's argument and that really impressed Einstein.

John Wheeler, one of the world's most influential physicists, is best known for coining the term 'black holes', for his seminal contributions to the theories of quantum gravity and nuclear fission, as well as for his mind-stretching theories and writings on time, space and gravity.

Listeners: Ken Ford

Ken Ford took his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1953 and worked with Wheeler on a number of research projects, including research for the Hydrogen bomb. He was Professor of Physics at the University of California and Director of the American Institute of Physicists. He collaborated with John Wheeler in the writing of Wheeler's autobiography, 'Geons, Black Holes and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics' (1998).

Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008