Press Release


Harvard University Professor and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Peter Galison to speak on the origins of Einstein’s special theory of relativity and its impact on our present day understanding of physics, technology, and philosophy.

CHICAGO – The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will kick off its four-month-long commemoration of Albert Einstein’s revolutionary 1905 papers, Einstein’s Revolutions, with a lecture by Peter Galison on “The History of Relativity,” on Tuesday, June 14th, at The Newberry Library (60 W. Walton Street) at 6:00 p.m.

Galison will discuss the formation and impact of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, which drastically shifted our understanding of time as universal and absolutely constant to relative depending on the location and velocity of the observer. Galison will trace the development of Eintein’s theory by noting the impact of Einstein’s exposure to new technologies at his job as a patent clerk, his effort to standardize time for the railways, and other scientific work happening concurrently.

This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To make reservations or for more information, contact the IHC at 312.422.5580 or send an email to This event is wheelchair accessible. “Einstein’s Revolutions” is funded in part by grants from The Boeing Company and Motorola, Inc.

Peter Galison is the Mallinckrodt Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. In 1997, he was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow; in 1999, he was a winner of the Max Planck Prize. Galison’s main work explores the complex interaction between the three principal subcultures of twentieth-century physics — experimentation, instrumentation, and theory. His books include How Experiments End (1987), Image and Logic (1997), and Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps (2003). In addition, Galison has launched several projects examining the powerful cross-currents between physics and other fields — these include a series of co-edited volumes on the relations between science, art and architecture. He co-produced a documentary film on the politics of science, Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma, and is now working with Robb Moss on a second, Secrecy, about the architecture of the classification and secrecy establishment.

Professor Galison’s lecture is part of “Einstein’s Revolutions” a free, four-month-long series of programs taking place in Chicago through October 2005. Einstein’s Revolutions will bring together scientists of international reputation — with philosophers, historians, artists, and a general audience — to look at the impact of the 1905 papers on our current understandings of the world, both scientific and personal.

Future programs include a conversation on “Einstein’s Cosmic Legacy” between Edward “Rocky” Kolb, Director of the Particle Astrophysics Center at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago and Janna Levin, Assistant Professor of Physics, Barnard College of Columbia University, and a lecture on time by Sean Carroll, Department of Physics, Enrico Fermi Institute, and Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago.

For a full calendar of events or for more information, please visit or contact the IHC at 312.422.5580 or via email at

The Illinois Humanities Council is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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