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. 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.
Representations: Stick-Figure Realism: Conventions, Reification, and the Persistence of Feynman Diagrams, 1948-1964