• Erik Verlinde

    Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    “We use concepts like time and space, but we don’t really understand what this means microscopically. That might change… I think there’s something we haven’t found yet, and this will help us discover the origins of our universe.”
    Erik Verlinde, in UvA in the Spotlight

    Erik Verlinde is a Dutch theoretical physicist, internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of string theory and quantum field theory. His PhD work in conformal field theories led to the Verlinde formula, which is widely used by string theorists. He is currently best known for his work on emergent gravity, which proposes that both space-time and the gravitational force are not fundamental, but emergent properties arising from the entanglement of quantum-information. Incorporating the expansion of the Universe into this theory even allowed him to predict, under specific circumstances, the excess gravity currently attributed to dark matter. Erik studied physics at the University of Utrecht and conducted his PhD research under the supervision of Bernard de Wit and Nobel Prize winner Gerard ‘t Hooft. At the end of his PhD, he moved to Princeton as a postdoctoral fellow. In 1993 Erik accepted a tenured position at CERN, and in 1996 Utrecht University appointed him as professor of Physics. In 1999 he was also awarded a professorship at Princeton University. Since 2003 Erik Verlinde has been a professor of Physics at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in the University of Amsterdam. In 2011 he was awarded the Spinoza Prize, the most prestigious award for scientists in the Netherlands.

  • Wendy Freedman

    Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago, the United States

    “The Hubble constant … is a measure of how fast the universe is expanding at the current time. We find ourselves with a discrepancy. Now, there are several possibilities: one is that there is an error in one or both of the experiments, or both measurements could actually be correct, and it’s telling us something about the Universe. … our standard model makes a prediction, and we’re seeing cracks in this prediction. So it is possible that we are missing something in this overall picture. We don’t have the final answer. But that’s exciting; the opportunity to learn something new.”
    Wendy Freedman in her interview: The Hubble Constant measurement mystery

    Wendy Freedman is a Canadian-American astronomer, now the John & Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. Freedman was co-leader of an international team of 30 astronomers to carry out the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project, a program aiming to establish the distance scale of the Universe and measure the current expansion rate, a quantity known as the Hubble constant. She is known as the director of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, and Las Campanas, Chile. Her principal research interests are in observational cosmology, focusing on measuring both the current and past expansion rates of the universe, and on characterizing the nature of dark energy. Freedman initiated the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Project and served as chair of the board of directors from its inception in 2003 until 2015. GMT is an international consortium of leading universities and science institutions to build a 25-meter optical telescope at the Carnegie Institution for Science's Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean Andes.Freedman has been elected a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. She has received several awards for her contributions to observational cosmology, including a Centennial Lectureship of the American Physical Society, the John P. McGovern Award in Science, the Magellanic Premium Award of the American Philosophical Society and the Marc Aaronson Lectureship and prize.

  • Carter Emmart

    Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the United States

    “Who speaks for the Earth? Those who have experienced it... by seeing it not as a diagram, but as the system it truly is. What the Earth actually looks like from space can now be constructed from full color, high resolution, global daily imaging by satellites. ... The question is whether common access to this perspective will forge a more integrated awareness of our condition and inspire action for better integrated stewardship.”
    Carter Emmart, on the Overview institute website

    Dr.Carter Emmart is the Director of Astrovisualization in the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City. Since 1998, he has directed Space Show production for the Hayden Planetarium and oversees software development of interactive tools for visualizing the museum’s Digital Universe 3D Atlas. He directs graduate student projects about the capabilities of the OpenSpace software. He has guided a number of international collaborations with AMNH, including the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and the Media Technologies Department of Sweden’s Linkoping University from which OpenSpace grew out of and continues to contribute to. He received his undergraduate degree in geophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he was co-founder of the Case for Mars conference series and the original Mars Underground. In 2006, Carter received a Ph.D. in Astro Visualization from Linkoping University, and in 2016 he received the prestigious Technology and Innovation Award from the International Planetarium Society. Carter has had careers in architectural modeling and technical space illustration where he contributed regularly to Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine, and for ten years was Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s design illustrator. He has worked at NASA Ames Research Center and in earth system data visualization at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Carter grew up in New Jersey in a family of artists and began planetarium classes at the age of ten.

  • Charley Lineweaver

    Convener of the Australian National University's Planetary Science Institute in Canberra, Australia

    “The techniques of particle physics or cosmology fail utterly to describe the nature and origin of biological complexity. Darwinian evolution gives us an understanding of how biological complexity arose, but is less capable of providing a general principle of why it arises. “Survival of the fittest” is not necessarily “survival of the most complex”.”
    Charley Lineweaver, in his book: Complexity and the Arrow of Time

    Charles Lineweaver is the convener of the Australian National University's Planetary Science Institute (ANU) in Canberra, where he is an associate professor in the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and at the Research School of Earth Sciences. His research areas include cosmology, exoplanetology, and astrobiology and evolutionary biology. He has plenty of projects for students, dealing with exoplanet statistics, the recession of the Moon, cosmic entropy production, major transitions in cosmic and biological evolution and phylogenetic trees. He was a member of the COBE satellite team that discovered the temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background. Lineweaver obtained his undergraduate degree in physics from Ludwig Maximilians Universitat, Munich, Germany and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1994. Before his appointment at ANU, he held postdoctoral positions at Strasbourg Observatory and the University of New South Wales where he taught one of the most popular general studies courses "Are We Alone?"