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Visions of Discovery: New Light on Physics, Cosmology, and Consciousness
 

“Visions of Discovery” — Honoring the Achievements of
Charles H. Townes

“Visions of Discovery” was a multifaceted program established by a philanthropic organization to honor the work of Nobel Laureate Charles H. Townes, inventor of the maser-laser. The program assembled some of the greatest minds in physics, cosmology, philosophy, and other disciplines for an exploration of awe-inspiring challenges in 21st-century science. The program looked to shed “new light” on topics ranging from physics and cosmology to human consciousness.

Ellipsis was contracted by Metanexus Institute to help manage the content of the program’s three-day academic symposium and to develop the resulting book. The edited volume examines some of the most important and fundamental questions of science, philosophy, and the nature of existence: How did the universe begin? Why do the fundamental constants of nature have the values they do? What is human consciousness, and do we have free will? 

Highlights

Ellipsis helped organize and manage the content of the “Amazing Light” symposium held at the University of California, Berkeley, in honor of the 90th birthday year of Charles H. Townes. The meeting assembled 18 Nobel Laureates and hundreds of researchers and students from physics, cosmology, philosophy, and other disciplines. Following the conference, Ellipsis managed the editorial development of the resulting book, Visions of Discovery: New Light on Physics, Cosmology, and Consciousness, which was published by Cambridge University Press (UK) in 2010. The book featured contributions from more than 40 renowned scholars and researchers.

This multifaceted edited volume examines some of the most important and fundamental questions of science, philosophy, and the nature of existence: How did the universe begin? Why do the fundamental constants of nature have the values they do? What is human consciousness, and do we have free will? The book, which features contributions from more than 40 renowned scholars and researchers, including a dozen Nobel Laureates, was published by Cambridge University Press (UK) in 2010.

Ellipsis was contracted by Metanexus Institute to develop this volume, as well as to help manage the content of the three-day academic symposium that preceded it. The book and symposium were part of a multifaceted program established by a philanthropic organization to honor the work of Nobel Laureate Charles H. Townes, inventor of the maser-laser.

The program assembled some of the greatest minds in physics, cosmology, philosophy, and other disciplines to shed “new light” on topics ranging from physics and cosmology to human consciousness. 

Details 

Symposium Planning and Management 

  • Assisted the funding organization and the grantee, the Metanexus Institute, in organizing and managing the academic content and structure of the “Amazing Light: Visions for Discovery” symposium held on October 6-8, 2005, at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Issued invitations and participant instructions, managed all communications, and helped develop the content of the symposium website and collateral materials.

Book Development and Editing

  • Assisted a distinguished group of volume editors in the development of the resulting 38-chapter book, assuming complete responsibility for project management by providing book-development, editorial, and administrative guidance and support.
  • Created the book proposal, secured a publisher, and served as the primary liaison between the publisher, volume editors, and authors.
  • Developed author guidelines, facilitated chapter reviews and external refereeing of controversial submissions, managed the flow of chapter drafts, and secured permissions.
  • Copyedited chapters, performed language edits, compiled the front matter, and prepared the content in Word, LaTeX, and graphics files for submission to the publisher.
  • Coordinated the production process on behalf of the volume editors and authors, addressing copyediting queries, reviewing page proofs, managing the flow of author corrections, and ensuring proper distribution of complimentary copies.

People

Ellipsis was privileged to work with the following people on this project:

  • Raymond Y. Chiao, School of Natural Sciences and School of Engineering, University of California, Merced — Volume editor and chapter author
  • Marvin L. Cohen, Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, and Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — Volume editor and chapter author
  • Anthony J. Leggett, Center for Advanced Study, Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — Volume editor and chapter author
  • William D. Phillips, Joint Quantum Institute and University of Maryland — Volume editor
  • Charles L. Harper, Jr., Vision-Five.com Consulting (formerly of the John Templeton Foundation) — Program developer and volume editor 
  • Charles H. Townes, Department of Astrophysics, Graduate School, University of California, Berkeley— Honoree and Foreword and chapter author
  • Freeman J. Dyson, School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton — Preface author
  • Roy J. Glauber, Department of Physics, Harvard University — Laureates’ preface author
  • John L. Hall, NIST, JILA, and Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder — Laureates’ preface author
  • Theodor W. Hänsch, Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, and Department of Physics, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich — Laureates’ preface author
  • Wolfgang Ketterle, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Laureates’ preface author
And 34 additional distinguished authors from the fields of physics, astronomy, neuroscience, biology, ecology, history and philosophy of science, philosophy, and theology: Yakir Aharonov, Department of Physics, Computational Science and Engineering, Schmid College of Science, Chapman University, and School of Physics and Astronomy, Tel Aviv University (co-author with Jeffrey Tollaksen); Robert C. Bishop, Physics Department, Wheaton College; Raphael Bousso, Center for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory;Nancy L. Cartwright, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego;Steven Chu, US Department of Energy; Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; J. Ignacio Cirac, Theory Division, Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching; Paul C. W. Davies, Beyond: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, Arizona State University; Gerald M. Edelman, The Neurosciences Institute, San Diego; George F. R. Ellis, Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, University of Cape Town, and Department of Astronomy, Queen Mary, London University; Gerald Gabrielse, Department of Physics, Harvard University, and ATRAP Collaboration, CERN; Peter L. Galison, Department of the History of Science and Department of Physics, Harvard University; Reinhard Genzel, Max-Planck Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching, and Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley; David J. Gross, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics and Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara; Steven S. Gubser, Department of Physics, Princeton University; John L. Heilbron, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley, and Worcester College, University of Oxford; Klaus Hepp, Institute for Theoretical Physics and Institute for Neuroinformatics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) (co-author with Christof Koch); Michio Kaku, Department of Theoretical Physics, City University of New York; Marc Kamionkowski, Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy, California Institute of Technology; Brian G. Keating, Department of Physics and Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, University of California, San Diego;Christof Koch, Division of Biology and Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, and Institute for Neuroinformatics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) (co-author with Klaus Hepp); Antoine Labeyrie, Department of Observational Astrophysics, College of France, and Laboratory of Stellar and Exoplanetary Interferometry (LISE), Observatories of Haute Provence and Cote d’Azur; Adrian T. Lee, Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, and Physics Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Nancey Murphy, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary; William T. Newsome, Department of Neurobiology, Stanford University School of Medicine; Saul Perlmutter, Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Robert J. Russell, The Graduate Theological Union and The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley; Vaclav Smil, Faculty of Environment, University of Manitoba; Marin Soljacic, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Max Tegmark, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Foundational Questions Institute; Jeffrey Tollaksen, Department of Physics, Computational Science, and Engineering, Schmid College of Science, Chapman University (co-author with Yakir Aharonov);Frank Wilczek, Center for Theoretical Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jun Ye, JILA, NIST, and Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder; Anton Zeilinger, Department of Physics, University of Vienna, and Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, Austrian Academy of Sciences; Ahmed H. Zewail, Department of Physics and Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science & Technology, California Institute of Technology
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