Bold Ideas in Physics: Celebrating David Ritz Finkelstein

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School of Physics Emeritus Professor David Ritz Finkelstein (1929-2016) was the first to show, at age 29, that anything falling inside a black hole cannot escape. The work influenced eminent theoretical physicists, including Lev Landau, Roger Penrose, and John Wheeler. It helped bring general relativity into mainstream physics, encouraging today’s vibrant research on black holes.

Among the first to bring topology into quantum physics, Finkelstein discovered phenomena called “kinks” and solitons and formulated a theory of electroweak unification. He also tried to quantize geometry. But his enduring, bold passion was developing a universal physical theory consistent with both quantum theory and gravity theory.

Harvard University physicist Sidney Coleman, a giant of theoretical physics, described Finkelstein as “a brilliant scientist with a passion for long shots,” and Finkelstein’s work as of “great significance, extraordinary penetration, and ten years ahead of everyone else.”

To celebrate Finkelstein’s life and work, the College of Sciences School of Physics has organized an exhibit and a Frontiers in Science lecture. The activities are made possible in part by a generous contribution from Dr. Ramon and Mrs. Jody Franco.

About the Exhibit

Bold Ideas in Physics: Celebrating David Ritz Finkelstein

The exhibition highlights the life and career contributions of Finkelstein and connects his scientific insights to recent work and discoveries involving Georgia Tech research scientists. Finkelstein’s life-long engagement in scientific inquiry, as well as the inspiration he took from aspects of culture not directly associated with his scientific pursuits, offer a model and example to students and future generations of scientists.

The exhibit runs from Jan. 23 to Feb 19, 2017, in the Ground-Floor Atrium of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, 4th St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30313

About the Frontiers in Science Lecture

The Square Kilometre Array: Big Telescope, Big Science, Big Data

Russ Taylor will deliver the lecture. He is the director of the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy and the South African Joint Research Chair in Radio Astronomy, University of Cape Town and University of Western Cape.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a next-generation global radio telescope undergoing final design by a collaboration of institutions in 11 countries. One of the largest scientific projects ever undertaken, the SKA is designed to answer some of the big questions of our time: What is dark energy? When and how did the first stars and galaxies form? Is there life elsewhere in the universe?

When completed the SKA radio telescope will consist of thousands of radio antennas spread over thousands of square kilometers in Southern Africa. It will create 3D maps of the universe 10,000 times faster than can any imaging radio telescope array ever built.

About Russ Taylor

Russ Taylor has played a leading role in the SKA Project since its inception, as co-author of the first science case for the project, founding executive secretary of the International SKA Steering Committee, founding chair of the International SKA Science Advisory Committee, vice-chair of the International SKA Science and Engineering Committee, and member of the International Board of the Preparatory Phase Program for the SKA and of the International Board of the SKA Organization.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:A. Maureen Rouhi
  • Created:01/05/2017
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:04/13/2017