My Brilliant Pen Pal: Sabine Hossenfelder

At a time in which virtual communication has all but replaced postal mail, we wish to celebrate a moment when checking the mailbox could be exciting and fun, to reinvigorate the pleasure of having a pen pal. Here's how it works:

  • You will have until November 8th to register for this event. 
  • In a matter of weeks, you and your fellow audience members will receive in the mail a short essay, letter, work of art, etc., from your new pen pal, something that our special guest has written or created specifically for this event and which will not be available to anyone else for at least several months.
  • You will then be encouraged to write back to the DHC with a question or comment for the pen pal (using the U. S. mail and the SASE we will provide with the first mailing).
  • The staff at the DHC will collect and curate responses and pass a selection along to the pen pal.
  • The pen pal will then respond to the selections, as well as some questions from DHC director, H. Peter Steeves.
  • You will then receive a copy of the responses by mail, bringing your brief but brilliant correspondence to a close.

Register on EventBrite:


Sabine Hossenfelder, Ph.D., is a physicist, artist, and popular author. Her celebrated book, Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray (which has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Romanian, and Korean) is an attempt to sound an alarm in contemporary physics. Hossenfelder argues that the reason there has been no progress in the foundations of physics for more than forty years is that physicists are being led by mathematics rather than empirical observation—and more troubling than this, even, they are being led by a mathematical sense of aesthetics, by the belief that “beautiful” math must lead to “true” descriptions of reality. In some ways, Hossenfelder is even claiming that physics has stopped being a science when it comes to the search for quantum gravity, for the smallest particles that make up everything, for the foundations of the universe itself.

Currently a research fellow at the Frankfort Institute for Advanced Studies, Hossenfelder has published numerous scientific articles on topics in general relativity, quantum gravity, particle physics, quantum foundations, and statistical mechanics. But her work has also been featured in Scientific American, New Scientist, Nautilus, Aeon, and the New York Times. With degrees in math, physics, and theoretical physics, Hossenfelder’s keen ability to make complicated ideas understandable for non-scientists without sacrificing meticulous attention to technical detail makes her an exemplary model of “the public intellectual.” Her curious mind has led her to think about questions of free will, artificial intelligence, cryptography, time travel, and, recently, the nature of human consciousness. All of that, plus she has given the world really cool quantum physicist trading cards, the opportunity to pay to chat with a scientist, as well as some pretty amazing music videos about antiparticles, racing light, and a very famous cat that might very well be both alive and dead at the same time.


“I am a physicist. More exactly, I am a theoretical physicist. People often wonder what a theoretical physicist does. You might not believe it, but most of the time I think. Sometimes, I scribble funny looking things with a pencil on a notebook. Processes like this usually involve lots of coffee and walking up and down the corridor.”

Sabine Hossenfelder

Sunday, November 8, 2020

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