…at this year’s Nobel Conference 49: The Universe at Its Limits. Yes, it’s true. Someone decided it was a good idea to unleash the philosophers of Gustavus upon the Nobel Prize-caliber physicists at this year’s Nobel Conference. Philosophy professor Josh Brown was chosen to host Dr. Tara Shears, professor of physics at the University of Liverpool and research fellow at CERN, where she works on the Large Hadron Collider. I [Sami Manick], along with fellow philosophy major Stephen Bormann were in turn chosen by Josh as student hosts for Dr. Shears. But don’t worry, they didn’t let the three philosophers completely loose on Tara—we were attended by two additional student hosts, extremely talented and wonderful physics students Serenity Mahoney and Patrick Ernst. If I do say so myself, our five-person hybrid-department hosting team knocked it out of the park. At mealtimes, our table produced the loudest laughs, the liveliest discussions, and the most trouble (all in good fun, of course). We also brought Tara to her first ever philosophy course, in which we discussed the nature of reality and the external world and if, for instance, Tara’s LHC really does exist (the jury’s still out on that one)… And when it came time for Tara’s big speech on Tuesday, to cheer her on, I proceeded to make her a sign that read, “Go Tara! You (probably) exist!” So, I’m writing this blog post as a testament to the value of philosophy—but mostly as “proof” that we philosophers do sometimes play well with others, when asked nicely J. My favorite thing about fraternizing with the particle physicists at this year’s Nobel Conference was the realization that they, too, find infinitely more questions than answers in their work, more unknowns than knowns, more no’s than yes’s… but we keep on exploring, and that’s what makes it so damn beautiful.
Sami Manick, Junior Philosophy Major