Brian Greene Discusses Physics, Life’s Worth, and the Nature of Reality


The human drama of scientific discovery was a focus for Krista Tippett’s recent conversation with physicist Brian Greene, a John Templeton Foundation grantee and co-founder of the World Science Festival. The interview, “Reimagining the Cosmos,” was broadcast on January 30 as an episode of Tippett’s radio show On Being and was sponsored by the Foundation.

Greene described contemporary physics as going beyond everyday experience to lift the veil on reality. For example, a table looks and feels solid, but physics tells us otherwise. A clock appears to tick at a certain rate, but again, the science of motion and gravity shows that it all depends. Physicists seek “The Hidden Reality,” which forms the title of Greene’s latest book.

The exchange ranged over the possibility of free will to the discovery of the Higgs boson. Greene explained that for him, the question of life’s worth is intimately linked to the nature of reality. “The question of whether there are three dimensions or 10 dimensions is so captivating that it does impact my desire to live,” he said.

The interview took place at a public event hosted by the Center for the Study of Science and Religion at Columbia University in New York City, and included questions from the audience. The full conversation is available online.