David Kaiser

Program in Science, Technology & Society  
and Department of Physics

Short Biography

David Kaiser is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and Department Head of MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and a Senior Lecturer in MIT's Department of Physics. He completed an A.B. in physics at Dartmouth College and Ph.D.s in physics and the history of science at Harvard University. Kaiser's historical research focuses on the development of physics in the United States during the Cold War, looking at how the discipline has evolved at the intersection of politics, culture, and the changing shape of higher education. His physics research focuses on early-universe cosmology, working at the interface of particle physics and gravitation.

Kaiser is author of the award-winning book, Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (University of Chicago Press, 2005), which traces how Richard Feynman's idiosyncratic approach to quantum physics entered the mainstream. His latest book, How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (W. W. Norton, 2011), charts the early history of Bell's theorem and quantum entanglement and was named "Book of the Year" by Physics World magazine. His edited volumes include Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (MIT Press, 2005), Becoming MIT: Moments of Decision (MIT Press, 2010), and Science and the American Century, co-edited with Sally Gregory Kohlstedt (University of Chicago Press, 2013). He is presently working on two books about gravity: a physics textbook on gravitation and cosmology co-authored with Alan Guth; and a historical study of Einstein's general relativity over the course of the twentieth century. He is also completing a book entitled American Physics and the Cold War Bubble (University of Chicago Press, in preparation). Kaiser serves as an editor of the journal, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences.

Kaiser's work has been featured in such venues as Nature, Science, and Scientific American; the New York Times, Harper's, the Huffington Post, and the London Review of Books; and on National Public Radio, BBC Radio, and NOVA television programs. In 2010, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Other honors include the Pfizer Prize for best book in the field (2007) and the Davis Prize for best book aimed at a general audience (2013) from the History of Science Society; and the Leroy Apker Award for best undergraduate physics student from the American Physical Society (1993). In 2012 Kaiser was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT's highest honor for excellence in undergraduate teaching. That same year, he also received the Frank E. Perkins Award for excellence in mentoring graduate students.

Download Kaiser's c.v.
Back to Kaiser's home page

Research Interests: History of Science

I have long been fascinated by the interplay between ideas and institutions. Becoming a physicist in 1860s Britain or 1910s Germany was not the same as in 1950s America. What effects did those differences in training regimes and research institutions have on the knowledge that was produced? More broadly, how does scientific knowledge -- that paragon of objectivity, seemingly impervious to political exigencies or cultural cues -- bear the marks of time and place?


Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (University of Chicago Press, 2005) traces how the American physicist Richard Feynman's idiosyncratic approach to quantum physics entered the mainstream.  Ubiquitous today throughout nearly every branch of modern physics, the diagrams did not enter physicists' toolkit overnight. Personal mentoring and extended face-to-face contact proved crucial for putting the diagrams into circulation. Once they did begin to circulate, physicists crafted a dizzying array of uses and interpretations for them, far beyond anything Feynman had imagined. Drawing on insights from sociology and art history, the book scrutinizes what it takes for strange new tools to become "second nature." (For a synopsis, see "Physics and Feynman's Diagrams.")  The book has been honored with the Pfizer Award of the History of Science Society (2007) and the Book Prize of the Forum for History of Science in America (2006).  

How the Hippies Saved Physics How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (W. W. Norton, 2011) focuses on the rocky transition of the 1970s and 1980s. Caught off-guard as physicists' postwar boom years turned to bust, a small group banded together to carve out a new role for the physicist. Holding Ph.D.s from elite programs but with no job prospects in sight, they set up shop in Berkeley, California, and called themselves the "Fundamental Fysiks Group." They chased the mysteries of quantum theory amid the Bay Area's blossoming counterculture and New Age movements, and their investigations began to reflect the era's many enthusiasms. Bell's theorem and quantum entanglement, for example, suggested possibilities for mind reading. The group carved out a parallel universe, outside academia, and parlayed their interest into a widespread cultural phenomenon. They cultivated a new set of patrons, from the CIA to self-made entrepreneurs of the California "human potential" movement; and they established alternative forums in which to puzzle through the foundations of quantum theory, including a long-running seminar series at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Their popular books became bestselling icons, including Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics (1975) and Gary Zukav's The Dancing Wu Li Masters (1979). Items from the group also got picked up in the nation's physics classrooms, smuggling back in some sustained attention to the foundations of quantum theory. As I trace in the book, the group's brainstorming sessions laid crucial groundwork for today's quantum information science. The book was named "Book of the Year" by Physics World magazine. Watch a lecture based on the book.

CWBcoverMore recently I have been working on a book about physics and the Cold War. American Physics and the Cold War Bubble (University of Chicago Press, in preparation) examines a massive experiment in social engineering that unfolded in the United States during the decades after World War II, in what might be called the credentialing of America. Higher education was booming; the classrooms of American colleges and universities bulged as never before, thanks to programs like the G.I. Bill. Enrollments in nearly every field grew exponentially. Yet graduate enrollments in physics grew fastest of all, at almost twice the rate of all other fields combined. Twenty-five years later, enrollments across nearly all fields in the United States underwent a major contraction. Physics again led the way, falling faster and deeper than any other field. Rising fastest and falling hardest, physics set the trend for larger transitions in American intellectual life, both in good times and bad. Unprecedented enrollment pressures -- and their equally unprecedented disappearance -- changed the nature of what it meant to be a physicist, from the rise of bureaucracy, to the specter of specialization, to a shift in the guiding epistemology behind cutting-edge research. The physicists' case stands as a cautionary tale -- highlighting the promise as well as the special challenges inherent in runaway growth -- as fields such as genomics and nanotechnology undergo their own frantic expansion today. Watch a lecture based on the book.

Back to Kaiser's home page

Research Interests: Particle Cosmology

My physics research is in particle cosmology, working at the interface of particle physics and gravitation. In particular, most of my work has focused on inflationary cosmology, an early phase during which the size of the universe expanded exponentially quickly just fractions of a second after the big bang. (For a review, see "Inflationary Cosmology.")  Since 2011, I have been leading a research group at MIT with Alan Guth on aspects of cosmic inflation. Much like the early universe, our group has grown rapidly.

Guth-Kaiser Group Members of the "Density Perturbations Group" at MIT, August 2012.

Back row, L to R: Edward Mazenc, Mathew Peterson, Carter Huffman, Katelin Schutz, Evangelos Sfakianakis, Alexis Giguere, Victor Buza, Matthew Joss.

Front row, L to R: Alan Guth, Rhys Borchert, Illan Halpern, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Daniel Bulhosa Solorzano, Mustafa Amin, Xingang Chen, David Kaiser.

Not pictured: Allison Christian, Ross Greenwood, Michael Pearce, Francisco Pena, William Rooney, Adam Strandberg.

Photo by Matthew Joss.

My interest has centered on whether successful inflation might be achieved with familiar particles from the Standard Model of particle physics, such as the Higgs boson. Recent work has focused on predictions from models with several interacting fields, and whether multifield models produce new features that could be observed in the cosmic microwave background radiation, compared to single-field models. Much of this work has also concerned interactions between matter and gravity that extend beyond Einstein's general relativity, and whether such "nonminimal couplings" might account for specific observable features in the spectrum of primordial perturbations. For a brief and accessible introduction to this work, see "Elegant Wiggles: Why the Universe is Lumpy."

I have also studied how such inflationary expansion might have come to an end in a process called "reheating," when the energy that had driven the rapid expansion was converted into particles more like the kind we see around us today. In many models, the decay of this inflationary energy occurs resonantly (somewhat akin to a laser, rather than an ordinary light bulb), far from equilibrium. In some cases these resonant interactions can amplify large gravitational fluctuations, which might (in principle) prove detectable in the cosmic microwave background radiation. Moreover, the techniques used to study the dynamics of reheating can also be applied to many other kinds of interactions, such as phase transitions in condensed-matter physics and in nuclear physics. For my work on reheating and gravitational fluctuations, I have collaborated with Bruce Bassett and Roy Maartens.

Another topic of interest is the behavior of gravity in models in which our universe has more than four dimensions. Higher-dimensional theories have many motivations, such as superstring theories. Interesting questions arise when one tries to understand cosmological consequences -- such as the expansion rate of the universe or the strength of gravity over various distance scales -- of these higher-dimensional models. For this work I have collaborated with Alan Guth, Philip Mannheim, and Ali Nayeri.  (For a review, see "Inflationary Cosmology.")

A complementary line of inquiry focuses on the complex dynamics of networks, with applications to understanding the growth and development of scientific research fields: a cross between statistical mechanics and the history and sociology of science. Together with Luis Bettencourt, I have been exploring whether the critical dynamics of topological phase transitions in scientists' collaboration networks might betray signs of universality. Research areas in fields as disparate as theoretical physics and biomedicine might undergo the same basic teamwork and co-authorship mechanisms early in their histories, even though they involve vastly different numbers of researchers and published articles per year.

Back to Kaiser's home page


Books and Edited Volumes

American Physics and the Cold War Bubble (University of Chicago Press, in preparation).  A study of the intertwining of institutions and epistemology in American higher education during the Cold War.  Following the fortunes of the discipline of physics -- which grew fastest of all fields after World War II, and crashed hardest around 1970 -- the book traces how the boom-and-bust cycle of enrollments shaped what would count as "good" or "appropriate" scholarship. Watch a lecture based on the book.
Science and the American Century
Science and the American Century, co-edited with Sally Gregory Kohlstedt (University of Chicago Press, 2013). The twentieth century was one of astonishing change in science, especially as pursued in the United States. Against a backdrop of dramatic political and economic shifts brought by world wars, intermittent depressions, sporadic and occasionally massive increases in funding, and expanding private patronage, this scientific work fundamentally reshaped everyday life. Science and the American Century offers some of the most significant contributions to the study of the history of science, technology, and medicine during the twentieth century, all drawn from the pages of the journal Isis.
How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (W. W. Norton, 2011). In the 1970s, amidst severe cutbacks on physics funding, a small group of underemployed physicists in Berkeley decided to throw off the constraints of academia and explore the wilder side of science. Dubbing themselves the "Fundamental Fysiks Group," they pursued a freewheeling, speculative approach to physics. They studied quantum theory alongside Eastern mysticism and psychic mind-reading, discussing the latest developments while lounging in hot tubs. Unlikely as it may seem, their work on Bell's theorem and quantum entanglement helped pave the way for today's advances in quantum information science. Watch a lecture based on the book.
Becoming MIT: Moments of Decision, ed. David Kaiser (MIT Press, 2010).  The Massachusetts Institute of Technology marks the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2011. This book examines a series of turning points, crucial decisions that helped define the MIT we know today. Many of these issues continue to have relevance: the moral implications of defense contracts, the optimal balance between government funding and private investment, and the right combination of basic science, engineering, and humanistic scholarship in the curriculum.
Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics, (University of Chicago Press, 2005). A study of how Richard Feynman's calculational aids spread from a small cluster of users to dominate several branches of modern physics.  Along the way, many groups of young physicists adapted the diagrams' pictorial form, calculational role, and interpreted meaning. The dispersion of Feynman diagrams thus illuminates larger transformations of postwar theoretical physics, from what would count as "theory" to how students would be trained to become "theorists."  (For a synopsis, see "Physics and Feynman's Diagrams.")
Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. David Kaiser (MIT Press, 2005).  The essays collected in this volume examine how scientists' and engineers' training shapes their research and careers.  Examples are drawn from a variety of cultural and political settings during the 19th and 20th centuries (ranging from Victorian Britain to interwar Japan, Stalinist Russia, and Cold War America), and from a range of fields (from theoretical physics to electrical engineering, nuclear weapons science to quantum chemistry).
Twentieth-Century Theoretical Physics in Political Contexts, ed. Alexis de Greiff and David Kaiser. Special issue of Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences (Fall 2002): 1-192.
Science and Society:  The History of Modern Physical Science in the Twentieth Century (New York:  Routledge, 2001).  A 4-volume anthology edited and with introductions by Peter Galison, Michael Gordin, and David Kaiser. Volume 1 (Making Special Relativity); Volume 2 (Making General Relativity); Volume 3 (Quantum Histories); and Volume 4 (Physical Science and the Language of War).

Back to Kaiser's home page

Articles:  History of Science

2014. Benjamin Wilson and David Kaiser, "Calculating Times: Radar, Ballistic Missiles, and Einstein's Relativity," in Science and Technology in the Global Cold War, ed. Naomi Oreskes and John Krige (Cambridge: MIT Press, in press).
2014. David Kaiser, "Thomas Kuhn and the Psychology of Scientific Revolutions," in Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions at Fifty, ed. Lorraine Daston and Robert J. Richards (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming).
2014. Benjamin Wilson and David Kaiser, "Physics," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Scientific, Medical, and Technological History, ed. Hugh Slotten (New York: Oxford University Press, in press).
2013. David Kaiser, "Epilogue: Textbooks and the Emergence of a Conceptual Trajectory," in Research and Pedagogy: A History of Quantum Physics through its Textbooks, ed. Massimiliano Badino and Jaume Navarro (Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), 285-289.
2013. David Kaiser, "Déjà vu all over again? A response to Philip Mirowski," Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2(2): 1-7.
2012. David Kaiser, "Booms, Busts, and the World of Ideas: Enrollment Pressures and the Challenge of Specialization," Osiris 27 (2012): 276-302.
2012. David Kaiser, "A Tale of Two Textbooks: Experiments in Genre," Isis 103 (March 2012): 126-138.
2011. David Kaiser, "Consciousness on the Charles" (essay review), Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 41 (2011): 265-275.
2010. David Kaiser and Marc Kastner, "Francis E. Low, 1921-2007," Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the National Academy of Sciences (2010): 1-24.
2010. Invited guest editor, with Hunter Heyck, of Isis Focus section on "New Perspectives on Science and the Cold War": Isis 101 (June 2010): 362-411.
2010. David Kaiser, "Elephant on the Charles: Postwar Growing Pains," in MIT: Moments of Decision, ed. David Kaiser (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010), 103-121.
2009. David Kaiser, "Following the Forbidden Path: Conventions, Habits, and Feynman Diagrams," in Atombilder: Ikonographien des Atoms in Wissenschaft und Öffentlichkeit des 20. Jahrhunderts, ed. Jochen Hennig and Charlotte Bigg (Berlin: Wallstein Verlag, 2009), 62-69 (in German).
2009. David Kaiser, "Feynman Diagrams," in Compendium of Quantum Physics: Concepts, Experiments, History, and Philosophy, ed. Friedel Weinert, Klaus Hentschel, and Daniel Greenberger (New York: Springer, 2009), 235-239.
2008. David Kaiser, "Birth Cry of Image and Logic," Centaurus 50 (Feb 2008): 166-167.
Cyrus Mody and David Kaiser, "Scientific Training and the Creation of Scientific Knowledge:  Historical, Sociological, and Anthropological Perspectives," in Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, rev. ed. (Cambridge:  MIT Press, 2007), 377-402.
David Kaiser, "Richard Feynman" and "Victor Weisskopf," in The New Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 2007).
David Kaiser, "The Mutual Embrace:  Institutions and Epistemology," in Positioning the History of Science, ed. Kostas Gavroglu and Jürgen Renn (Dordrecht:  Springer, 2007), 99-103.
David Kaiser, "The Physics of Spin:  Sputnik Politics and American Physicists in the 1950s," Social Research 73 (Winter 2006):  1225-1252.
David Kaiser, "Whose Mass is it Anyway?  Particle Cosmology and the Objects of Theory," Social Studies of Science 36 (August 2006):  533-564.
David Kaiser, "The Atomic Secret in Red Hands?  American Suspicions of Theoretical Physicists during the Early Cold War," Representations 90 (Spring 2005):   28-60.
David Kaiser, "Training and the Generalist's Vision in the History of Science," Isis 96 (June 2005):  244-251.
David Kaiser, "Making Tools Travel:  Pedagogy and the Transfer of Skill in Postwar Theoretical Physics," in Pedagogy and the Practice of Science:  Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. David Kaiser (Cambridge:  MIT Press, 2005), 41-74.
Andrew Warwick and David Kaiser, "Kuhn, Foucault, and the Power of Pedagogy," in Pedagogy and the Practice of Science:  Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. David Kaiser (Cambridge:  MIT Press, 2005), 393-409.
David Kaiser, "Einstein's Teachers," in Albert Einstein:  Chief Engineer of the Universe, ed. Jürgen Renn (Berlin:  Wiley VCH, 2005), 152-155.

David Kaiser, "The Postwar Suburbanization of American Physics," American Quarterly 56 (December 2004):  851-888.

David Kaiser, Kenji Ito, and Karl Hall, "Spreading the Tools of Theory:  Feynman Diagrams in the United States, Japan, and the Soviet Union," Social Studies of Science 34 (December 2004):  879-922.
David Kaiser, "Scientific Manpower, Cold War Requisitions, and the Production of American Physicists after World War II," Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 33 (Fall 2002): 131-159.
David Kaiser, "Nuclear Democracy: Political Engagement, Pedagogical Reform, and Particle Physics in Postwar America," Isis 93 (June 2002): 229-268.
David Kaiser, "Stick-Figure Realism: Conventions, Reification, and the Persistence of Feynman Diagrams, 1948-1964," Representations 70 (2000): 49-86.
David Kaiser, "Richard Feynman" and "Physics: 20th Century," in Reader’s Guide to the History of Science, ed. Arne Hessenbruch (London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000), 257-258, 566-568.
David Kaiser, "A Mannheim for All Seasons: Bloor, Merton, and the Roots of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge," Science in Context 11 (1998): 51-87.
David Kaiser, "A psi is just a psi? Pedagogy, Practice, and the Reconstitution of General Relativity, 1942-1975," Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 29 (1998): 321-338. Reprinted in Making General Relativity, ed. Peter Galison, Michael Gordin, and David Kaiser (New York: Routledge, 2001), 291-308.
David Kaiser, "Do Feynman Diagrams Endorse a Particle Ontology? The Roles of Feynman Diagrams in S-Matrix Theory," in Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Field Theory, ed. Tian Yu Cao (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 343-356.
David Kaiser, "Bringing the Human Actors Back On Stage: The Personal Context of the Einstein-Bohr Debate," British Journal for the History of Science 27 (1994): 129-152.
David Kaiser, "Niels Bohr’s Conceptual Legacy in Contemporary Particle Physics," in Niels Bohr and Contemporary Philosophy, ed. Jan Faye and Henry Folse (Boston: Kluwer, 1994), pp. 257-268.
David Kaiser, "More Roots of Complementarity: Kantian Aspects and Influences," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 23 (1992): 213-239.

Articles:  Physics

(Most of these articles are available from arXiv.org and the SLAC-SPIRES High Energy Physics Electronic Library.)

2014. Alan Guth, David Kaiser, and Yasunori Nomura, "Inflationary Paradigm after Planck 2013," Physics Letters B (in press), arXiv:1312.7619 [astro-ph.CO].
2014. Jason Gallicchio, Andrew Friedman, and David Kaiser, "Testing Bell's Inequality with Cosmic Photons: Closing the Settings-Independence Loophole," Physical Review Letters 112 (21 March 2014): 110405, arXiv:1310.3288 [quant-ph].
2014. Katelin Schutz, Evangelos Sfakianakis, and David Kaiser, "Multifield Inflation after Planck: Isocurvature Modes from Nonminimal Couplings," Physical Review D 89 (15 March 2014): 064044, arXiv:1310.8285 [astro-ph.CO].
2014. David Kaiser and Evangelos Sfakianakis, "Multifield Inflation after Planck: The Case for Nonminimal Couplings," Physical Review Letters 112 (10 January 2014): 011302 [Highlighted as an Editors' Suggestion], arXiv:1304.0363 [astro-ph.CO].
2013. Andrew Friedman, David Kaiser, and Jason Gallicchio, "The Shared Causal Pasts and Futures of Cosmological Events," Physical Review D 88 (15 August 2013): 044038, arXiv:1305.3943 [astro-ph.CO].
2013. Ross Greenwood, David Kaiser, and Evangelos Sfakianakis, "Multifield Dynamics of Higgs Inflation," Physical Review D 87 (15 March 2013): 064021, arXiv:1210.8190 [hep-ph].
2013. David Kaiser, Edward Mazenc, and Evangelos Sfakianakis, "Primordial Bispectrum from Multifield Inflation with Nonminimal Couplings," Physical Review D 87 (15 March 2013): 064004, arXiv:1210.7487 [astro-ph.CO].
2010. David Kaiser and Audrey Todhunter, "Primordial perturbations from multifield inflation with nonminimal couplings," Physical Review D 81 (15 June 2010): 124037, arXiv:1004.3805 [astro-ph.CO].
2010. David Kaiser, "Conformal transformations with multiple scalar fields," Physical Review D 81 (15 April 2010): 084044, arXiv:1003.1159 [gr-qc].
2009. Luis Bettencourt, David Kaiser, and Jasleen Kaur, "Scientific discovery and topological transitions in collaboration networks," Journal of Informetrics 3 (April 2009): 210-221.
Luis Bettencourt, David Kaiser, Jasleen Kaur, Carlos Castillo-Chavez, and David Wojick, "Population Modeling of the Emergence and Development of Scientific Fields," Scientometrics 75 (2008): 495-518.
Luis Bettencourt, Ariel Cintron-Arias, David Kaiser, and Carlos Castillo-Chavez, "The Power of a Good Idea:  Quantitative Modeling of the Spread of Ideas from Epidemiological Models," Physica A 364 (2006):  513-536.
Alan Guth and David Kaiser, "Inflationary Cosmology:  Exploring the Universe from the Smallest to the Largest Scales," Science 307 (11 Feb 2005):  884-890, arXiv:astro-ph/0502328.
Bruce Bassett, Christopher Gordon, Roy Maartens, and David Kaiser, "Restoring the Sting to Metric Preheating," Physical Review D 61 (2000): 061302 (Rapid Communication), arXiv:hep-ph/9909482.
Bruce Bassett, Fabrizio Tamburini, David Kaiser, and Roy Maartens, "Metric Preheating and Limitations of Linearized Gravity," Nuclear Physics B 561 (1999): 188-240, arXiv:hep-ph/9901319. (A topcite 50+ entry on SLAC-SPIRES.)
Bruce Bassett, David Kaiser, and Roy Maartens, "General Relativistic Effects in Preheating," Physics Letters B 455 (1999): 84-89, arXiv:hep-ph/9808404. (A topcite 100+ entry on SLAC-SPIRES.)
David Kaiser, "Larger Domains from Resonant Decay of Disoriented Chiral Condensates," Physical Review D 59 (1999): 117901, arXiv:hep-ph/9801307.
Joanne Cohn and David Kaiser, "Where do all the Supercurvature Modes Go?," Physical Review D 58 (1998): 083515, arXiv:gr-qc/9803073.
David Kaiser, "Resonance Structure for Preheating with Massless Fields," Physical Review D 57 (1998): 702-711, arXiv:hep-ph/9707516.
David Kaiser, "Preheating in an Expanding Universe: Analytic Results for the Massless Case," Physical Review D 56 (1997): 706-716, arXiv:hep-ph/9702244. (A topcite 50+ entry on SLAC-SPIRES.)
David Kaiser, "Post-Inflation Reheating in an Expanding Universe," Physical Review D 53 (1996): 1776-1783, arXiv:astro-ph/9507108. (A topcite 50+ entry on SLAC-SPIRES.)
David Kaiser, "Primordial Spectral Indices from Generalized Einstein Theories," Physical Review D 52 (1995): 4295-4306, arXiv:astro-ph/9408044. (A topcite 100+ entry on SLAC-SPIRES.)
David Kaiser, "Induced-gravity Inflation and the Density Perturbation Spectrum," Physics Letters B 340 (1994): 23-28, arXiv:astro-ph/9405029.
David Kaiser, "Constraints in the context of Induced-gravity Inflation," Physical Review D 49 (1994): 6347-6353, astro-ph/9308043.
David Kaiser, "Distinguishing a Charged Higgs Signal from a Heavy WR Signal," Physics Letters B 306 (1993): 125-128.
David Kaiser, "Working Apparatus for Determining Metals’ Relative Rates of Oxidation," BASE: A Journal of Science and Technology 8 (1990): 53-58.

Editorials, Short Essays, and Blog Posts

David Kaiser, "Dance of the Elementary Particles," London Review of Books blog (24 March 2014).

David Kaiser, "Physicists' Golden Jubilee," Huffington Post (10 February 2014).

David Kaiser, "Cosmic inflation," London Review of Books 36 (6 February 2014): 27-28.

David Kaiser, "Shut Up and Calculate!," Nature 505 (9 January 2014): 153-155.

David Kaiser, "Everything but the Unicorn," London Review of Books blog (19 April 2013).

David Kaiser and Jonathan Moreno, "Dual-Use Research: Self-Censorship is Not Enough," Nature 492 (20 - 27 December 2012): 345-347.

David Kaiser, "I Didn't Write That," New York Times (4 November 2012): SR11.

David Kaiser, "Boiling Electrons," London Review of Books 34 (27 September 2012): 17-18.

David Kaiser, "David Kaiser's Top Ten Books about Quantum Theory," The Guardian (26 September 2012).

David Kaiser, "Higgs at Last," London Review of Books blog (6 July 2012).

David Kaiser and Angela Creager, "The Right Way to Get It Wrong," Scientific American 306 (June 2012): 70-75. Reprinted in Italian translation as "Il modo giusto di sbagliare," Le Scienze (August 2012), n. 528; in Japanese translation as "Uso kara deta dai hakken," Nikkei Saiensu (October 2012): 76-83; and in German translation as "Fruchtbare Irrtümer," Spektrum der Wissenschaft (January 2013), s. 76-81.

David Kaiser, "How the Hippies Saved Physics" (excerpt on Bell's theorem and quantum entanglement), Scientific American (30 January 2012).

David Kaiser, "Elegant Wiggles: Why the Universe is Lumpy," Huffington Post (22 May 2012).

David Kaiser, "In Retrospect: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," Nature 484 (12 April 2012): 164-166.

David Kaiser, "The Higgsy Higgsy Boson," Huffington Post (11 January 2012).

David Kaiser, "The Weighty Higgs Particle," Philadelphia Inquirer (9 January 2012). Distributed by Project Syndicate and also published in Spain, Germany, Dubai, Qatar, Singapore, Egypt, South Korea, and Taiwan.

David Kaiser, "The Quantum Universe," The Guardian (18 November 2011): 7.

David Kaiser, "Faster than a Speeding Neutrino," London Review of Books blog (23 September 2011).

David Kaiser, "Short Cuts" (on the search for the Higgs boson), London Review of Books 33 (25 August 2011): 20.

David Kaiser, "How the Hippies Saved Physics: Curious Contributions to Quantum Theory," NPR Cosmos and Culture blog (30 June 2011).

David Kaiser, "The Search for Clean Cash," Nature 472 (7 April 2011): 30-31.

David Kaiser, "Going Supernova," London Review of Books 33 (17 February 2011): 36-37.

David Kaiser, "Half the Blink of an Eye," London Review of Books blog (24 November 2010).

David Kaiser, "Diary: Aliens," London Review of Books 32 (8 July 2010): 34-35.

David Kaiser, "The Coldest Place in the Universe," London Review of Books blog (22 March 2010).

David Kaiser, "Gremlin Fireworks," London Review of Books 31 (17 December 2009): 19-20.

David Kaiser, "Physics and Pixie Dust," American Scientist 97 (November-December 2009): 496.

David Kaiser, "A x B not-equal B x A," London Review of Books 31 (26 February 2009): 21-22.

David Kaiser, "Cosi la politica perseguito Einstein e la relativita" ("How politics persecuted Einstein and relativity"), l'Unita (14 January 2009).

David Kaiser, "The Other Evolution Wars," American Scientist 95 (Nov-Dec 2007):  518-525. Reprinted in Italian translation as "La guerra dell'altra evoluzione," Le Scienze (June 2008), n. 478.

David Kaiser, "When Fields Collide," Scientific American 296 (June 2007):  62-69.  Reprinted in German translation as "Duell der Felder," Spektrum der Wissenschaft (Oct 2007):  26-33

David Kaiser, "Turning Physicists into Quantum Mechanics," Physics World 20 (May 2007):  28-33.  Reprinted in Polish translation as "Jak ksztalcic mechnikow kwantowych," Postepy Fizyki 58 (Sep-Oct 2007):  201-206.

David Kaiser, "Viki Weisskopf:  Searching for Simplicity in a Complicated World," Physics @ MIT 20 (2007):  44-56.

David Kaiser, "Physics and Feynman's Diagrams," American Scientist 93 (March-April 2005):  156-165. Reprinted in Spanish translation as "La fisica y los diagramas de Feynman," Investigacion y Ciencia (Sep 2005): 74-83.

David Kaiser with Felice Frankel, "Sightings" (column on Feynman diagrams), American Scientist 91 (Sep-Oct 2003):  450-451.

David Kaiser, "Francis E. Low: Coming of Age as a Physicist in Postwar America," Physics @ MIT 14 (2001): 24-31, 70-77.

Back to Kaiser's home page

In the News

Kerri Smith, "Nature PastCast" on testing Einstein's general relativity, Nature.com (20 March 2014).

Andrew Friedman, "The universe made me do it? Testing 'free will' with distant quasars," NOVA: The Nature of Reality blog (19 March 2014).

Charles Q. Choi, "Quasar experiment may shed light on quantum physics and free will," NBC News (5 March 2014). Also available from Inside Science.

Tom Jokinen, "What if the universe is really against us?," Random House of Canada Hazlitt (5 March 2014).

Annalisa Arci, "Distant quasars to fill a loophole of Bell's theorem," Gaia News (Italy) (2 March 2014).

Jacqueline Godany, "Kosmischer Test für die Quantentheorie" ("Cosmic test for quantum theory"), Weltraum Aktuell (Germany) (26 February 2014).

Zeeya Merali, "Cosmic light could close quantum-weirdness loophole," Nature (25 February 2014).

Richard Chirgwin, "MIT wants quasars to help put free will to rest: Ringing the Bell on inequality," The Register (UK) (24 February 2014).

Vasudevan Mukunth, "For the last loophole, let there be light!," The Hindu (India) (24 February 2014).

Matthew Francis, "Is entanglement real or is there a super-deterministic cosmic conspiracy?," Ars Technica (21 February 2014).

Jennifer Chu, "Closing the 'free will' loophole: MIT researchers propose using distant quasars to test Bell's theorem," MIT News (20 February 2014).

Kerri Smith, "Nature PastCast" on Max Planck and quantum theory, Nature.com (19 December 2013).

Rebecca Jacobson, "What's in a Name? In Physics, Everything and Nothing," PBS Newshour (23 October 2013).

Kerri Smith, "Nature PastCast" on Carl Sagan and astrobiology, Nature.com (16 October 2013).

Kate Becker, "8 Ways to Win the Nobel Prize in Physics," NOVA: The Nature of Reality blog (7 October 2013).

Marianne Freiberger and Rachel Thomas, "The problem with infinity," "Taming QED," and "Quantum pictures" (series on quantum field theory), Plus Magazine (22 July 2013).

Sanden Totten, "Fund my science? Years of decreases in federal funds lead researchers to ask the public for money," KPCC Southern California Public Radio (5 July 2013).

Nastaran Tavakoli-Far, "Is it possible to kick start science?," BBC News (22 May 2013).

John Leland, "A Hip-Hop Experiment," New York Times (16 November 2012): MB1.

Kate Becker, "Bittersweet victory: Physics after the Higgs," NOVA: The Nature of Reality blog (6 August 2012).

Carmen Drahl, "A primordial composition, a quantum rap album," Chemical and Engineering News 90 (18 June 2012): 48. Additional material at Carmen Drahl, "More on GZA and 'Dark Matter'," CENtral Science Newscripts (18 June 2012).

Ann Finkbeiner, "What's the matter with gravity?," NOVA: The Nature of Reality blog (3 May 2012).

Matthew Perpetua, "GZA Talks Lectures, Science, and 'Dark Matter': Wu-Tang Clan Rapper's Next Album is Inspired by Quantum Physics," Rolling Stone (3 April 2012).

Kate Becker, "A Higgs by any other name," NOVA: The Nature of Reality blog (29 March 2012).

Kate Becker, "It's a paradox," NOVA: The Nature of Reality blog (29 February 2012).

Mary Carmichael, "Science and 'the Genius': Intellect rules for hip-hop star, who keeps the teachers well on their toes," Boston Globe (3 December 2011).

Sharon Weinberger, "Power of the Pentagon: The changing face of military science," Nature 477 (21 September 2011): 386-387.

Ned Stafford, "Science in the digital age," Nature 467 (14 October 2010): S19-S21.

Bina Venkataraman, "Want a solution? Try offering a prize," Boston Globe (2 November 2009).

Dan Vergano and Elizabeth Weise, "Should anthropologists work alongside soldiers?," USA Today (8 December 2008).

Joel Brown, "For this musician, pain has been the family business" (about the documentary film Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives by Mark Oliver Evertt, son of quantum physicist Hugh Everett), Boston Globe (19 October 2008).

Martin Uhlir, "How to steal an atomic bomb: With American physicist David Kaiser on the theft of the atomic bomb, Soviet espionage, and the deepest secrets of the universe," (in Czech) Respekt 41 (6 October 2008): 42-45.

Robin Lloyd, "Era of scientific secrecy nears its end: Emergence of online venues opening up the scientific process," LiveScience.com; also posted on MSNBC.com (2 September 2008).

Jon Mooallem, "A curious attraction: On the quest for antigravity,"Harper's (October 2007): 84-91.

Marcella Bombardieri, "In computer science, a growing gender gap: Women shunning a field once seen as welcoming," Boston Globe (18 December 2005).

Peter Weiss, "Dr. Feynman's doodles: How one scientist's simple sketches transformed physics," Science News 168 (16 July 2005): 40-44.

Back to Kaiser's home page

Public Broadcasting Appearances


Invited guest, "Sojourner Truth with Margaret Prescod" KPFK radio interview about cosmic inflation, 26 March 2014. (Also available here: interview begins at 43:50.)

Invited guest, Feature Story News syndicated radio interview about cosmic inflation, 18 March 2014.

Advisory Board member, NOVA film, In Her Element, about Lise Meitner, in preparation.

Contributor, NOVA documentary film, The Mystery of Matter, about modern physics and chemistry, in preparation.

Invited guest, National Geographic Weekend radio, 5 August 2012.

Invited guest, "Today Programme," BBC Radio interview about quantum theory, 5 March 2012.

Invited guest, "Focus," Illinois Public Radio interview about quantum theory, 9 January 2012.

Invited guest, "The Veronica Rueckert Show," Wisconsin Public Radio interview about quantum theory, 16 December 2011.

Invited guest, "On Point," WBUR / National Public Radio interview about quantum theory, 1 November 2011.

Advisory Board member and contributor, NOVA documentary film, The Fabric of the Cosmos, about modern cosmology, originally broadcast November 2011.

Invited guest, "To the Best of Our Knowledge," Wisconsin Public Radio interview about quantum theory, 2 October 2011.

Invited guest, "The Takeaway" WNYC / Public Radio International radio interview about neutrinos and relativity, 23 September 2011.

Invited guest, "The Current," Canadian Broadcasting Company radio interview about quantum theory, 9 August 2011.

Invited guest, WICN radio interview about quantum theory, 13 July 2011.

Contributor to documentary film, The Hunting of the Primes, about number theory and encryption, in preparation.

Invited guest, RAI Radio 3 Scienze (Italy) interview about Einstein, relativity, and politics, 15 January 2009.

Advisor, BBC/NOVA documentary film, Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, about Hugh Everett's "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics. Originally broadcast on PBS on 21 October 2008.

Contributor to PBS Wired Science television segment on the X-prize.  Originally broadcast on PBS on 7 November 2007.

Contributor to NOVA ScienceNOW television segment on nuclear physics and the "island of stability."  Originally broadcast on PBS on 3 October 2006.  Listen to an extended podcast of the interview.

Advisory Board member and contributor to NOVA documentary film, Einstein's Big Idea, about Einstein's equation, E = mc2. Originally broadcast on PBS on 11 October 2005.

Invited guest, KXTR radio (Kansas City) interview about Einstein and relativity, 17 November 2005.

Invited guest, "Daybreak" USA Radio Network interview about Einstein and relativity, 10 October 2005.

Invited guest, National Public Radio "Science Friday," 24 June 2005, to discuss the one-hundredth anniversary of Einstein's special relativity.  

Other Lectures and Podcasts

American Physics in the Cold War, Serious Science (10 April 2014).

How the Hippies Saved Physics, New Books in Science, Technology, and Society (2 April 2014).

The Nature of Conceptual Revolutions, The Search for the Theory of Everything (6 November 2013).

Elegant Wiggles: Why the Universe is Lumpy, Cambridge Science Festival (12 April 2013).

How the Hippies Saved Physics, IdeaFestival (20 September 2012).

Kuhn Among the Psychologists, University of Chicago (1 December 2012).

Mavericks, Outsiders, and Cranks, Physics World (15 October 2012).

How the Hippies Saved Physics, Physics Central, American Physical Society (4 July 2012).

How the Hippies Saved Physics, Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo (7 May 2012).

MIT: A History, Nature (7 April 2011).

How the Hippies Saved Physics, Cambridge Science Festival (April 2010).

Nuclear Weapons in the Cold War Era: Weapons, Wiretaps, and Treaties, MIT (January 2010).

Toil, Trouble, and the Cold War Bubble: Physics and the Academy since World War II, Perimeter Institute (September 2008).

Give Latkes a Chance, Latke-Hamentaschen debate, MIT (March 2007).


Back to Kaiser's home page

Honors and Awards

History of Science Society, Davis Prize for best book aimed at a general audience, awarded for How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival. Read the prize citation here.
Physics World magazine, Book of the Year awarded to How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival. Read the award citation here.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT's highest honor for excellence in undergraduate teaching.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Frank E. Perkins Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising, for demonstrating "unbounded compassion and dedication towards students."
American Physical Society, Fellow, elected for "outstanding publications that combine technical mastery of twentieth-century physics with a deep knowledge of recent developments in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science."
History of Science Society, Pfizer Award for best book in the field, awarded for Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics. Read the Pfizer Award citation here.
Forum for History of Science in America Book Prize, awarded for Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award, awarded to one tenure-track faculty member for "exceptional distinction in teaching and research."
Forum for History of Science in America Article Prize, awarded for the article, " The Postwar Suburbanization of American Physics."
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Graduate Student Council Teaching Award, awarded to one professor in MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences "for excellence in teaching a graduate level course."
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Levitan Prize in the Humanities, awarded to one faculty member at MIT for "innovative and creative scholarship in the humanities."
British Society for the History of Science, Ivan Slade Prize (best article in the field) runner-up, awarded for the article, " Stick-Figure Realism."
Harvard University, awarded three Certificates for Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.
American Physical Society, Leroy Apker Award, awarded first place nationally "for outstanding achievement in physics by an undergraduate student."
Dartmouth College, Phi Beta Kappa Society, junior-year recipient.

Course Offerings

Here are the MIT OpenCourseWare sites for some classes I regularly offer:

The Rise of Modern Science
8.225 / STS.042
Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman: Physics in the 20th Century
History of Science
Cold War Science