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Nobel physicist David Gross in Christiania

David Gross, string physicist, entertained a cocktail-sipping crowd about string theory and particle physics at the 'Freetown'

‘Byens Lys’, a movie theater in Copenhagen’s self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood Freetown Christiania, is a dark and dusty cave, swarming with people sitting spread around the candle-lit floor sharing a chat and a drink. On the the evening of June 13 an unexpected guest was there.

“This is one of the most interesting audiences I have ever talked to,” said David Gross, 2004 Physics Nobel Prize, to the University Post, while sipping a drink with his wife.

Mr Gross was in Christiania for the last session of Science & Cocktails, a series of public lectures organised in cooperation with the Niels Bohr Institute. In a tour-the-force, Gross retraced the story of string theory from its birth, more than forty years ago, as an attempt to unify all forces in nature, to its role in pop culture as a symbol of all things obscure and unknown.

The best is yet to come

“String theory is the new Greek,” he joked, showing a New Yorker cartoon that hints to the putative theory of everything. He also addressed some fundamental questions about the meaning of science.

And “science is paradoxical,” Gross said. “We are disappointed when things work. Being successful makes us feel uneasy, because the essence of science is ignorance. Luckily, there are still many questions that we can’t answer, and the questions we ask ourselves today are more interesting and more profound than those we asked in the past. In science, like in life, the best is yet to come.”

He expects great results to come from CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), where LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is, the biggest particle collider in the world, “one of the greatest things mankind has accomplished,” as Gross said.

Science & Cocktails

The lecture was accompanied by live music and drinks. Behind the bar, a team of seasoned bartenders in white lab coats serving evocatively named cocktails – from Black Hole to Primordial Soup – to the crowd. All drinks were chilled with solid carbon dioxide, better known as dry ice or -80 degrees water, which gives a heavy fog around the glass.

Science & Cocktails will be back in October with a new round of lectures.

universitypost@adm.ku.dk

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