Joseph Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University
Once in a while, within science, there emerges an object that seems endlessly, obsessively, to function in a multiplicity of registers, in the imaginative, theoretical, empirical, and mathematical-symbolic. The black hole is one such strange shape-shifter, a source of endless, obsessive concern for Hollywood and science fiction writers, for theoretical physicists over the last hundred years, for precision observation, even for mathematicians. What is it that draws such attention, how do such objects relate to the very idea of a fetish in the unstable progression from Marx, Freud, and Lacan? What is it about these entities, names, and images that make it possible to speak all at once of sexuality and galaxy shaping forces?
Peter Galison is Joseph Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. In 1997 Galison was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. In 1998 he won a Pfizer Award for Image and Logic as the best book of that year in the field of History of Science; and in 1999 he received the Max-Planck-Research award of the Max-Planck-Society and the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation. His books include How Experiments End (1987); Image and Logic (1997); Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps (2003); and Objectivity (with Lorraine Daston, 2007). He has worked extensively with de-classified material in his studies of physics in the Cold War. His film on the moral-political debates over the H-bomb, Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma (with Pamela Hogan, 2000) has been shown frequently on the History Channel and is widely used in courses. With Robb Moss, he directed Secrecy (2008) which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and, also with Moss, recently completed Containment (2015) – about the need to safeguard radioactive materials for a period of 10,000 years. Galison collaborated with South African artist William Kentridge on a multi-screen installation, The Refusal of Time (2012). He is currently finishing a book, Building Crashing Thinking, about the relationship between the self and modern technologies.