Why trust a theory?

In Munich last week, physicists, philosophers, historians and others gathered to debate the question Why Trust a Theory?


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Genius player

On Wednesday, Graham realised a long-held ambition to meet John Conway, one of the most innovative mathematicians of the past few decades.


John Conway
John Conway – drawn by Simon J. Fraser (1973)


Inventor of ‘The Game of Life’, surreal numbers and ideas that have found applications in theoretical physics, Conway is a unique figure. Now emeritus professor at Princeton University, he is currently visiting the UK, and has given a special lecture at Cambridge. Graham arranged for him to give an interview in London with The Guardian’s Ian Sample, available as a podcast.

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Graham this week realised a long-held ambition of meeting one of the few heroes of social media, Steve Silberman, once described by Graham as the ‘Roger Federer of Tweeting’. Long a prominent journalist, @stevesilberman is an authentic star of Twitter and has recently published NeuroTribes, his new perspective on autism, currently riding high in the New York Times best-sellers list. Recently, the book was long-listed for this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

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graham and steve silberman cr
Steve Silberman (RHS) with Graham in London
70 years after Hiroshima

The Daily Telegraph published this article by Graham today, seventy years after the first use of a nuclear weapon.

Hiroshima Bomb Mushroom Cloud

The Atomic Bomb Explosion over Hiroshima. Photo: US Army

Is nature a work of art?

In today’s Guardian, Graham reviews A Beautiful Question, the latest book by the great American theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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A Beautiful Question cover

Kavli’s writer in residence

Graham has recently left the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at University of California having spent the past six weeks as its writer in residence. He was able to attend the workshops on quantum gravity and quantum entanglement, and to interview several physicists, including Nobel prize winner David Gross, Breakthrough Prize winner Juan Maldacena, Eva Silverstein and Steve Giddings.

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Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics
Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California at Santa Barbara
Saturday reviewer

In this week’s Saturday Review on BBC Radio 4, chaired by Tom Sutcliffe, Graham joined sociologist Tiffany Jenkins and critic Michael Arditti as guest reviewers. They discussed Xavier Dolan’s new movie Mommy, the Park Theatre’s production of Frozen, Channel 4’s docudrama Coalition, Sara Taylor’s novel The Shore and the Richard Diebenkorn exhibition at the Royal Academy.

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Tom Sutcliffe, Presenter BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review
Tom Sutcliffe, presenter BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review
Was physicist Bruno Pontecorvo a spy?

Last night at the Royal Institution in London’s Piccadilly, Frank Close talked about his new book Half Life – the divided life of Bruno Pontecorvo, with Graham as MC.

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FC at Ri 'Half Life' talk
Frank Close at the Royal Institution
Royal Institution, London

Frank Close will be talking about his new book Half Life, about the physicist (and spy?) Bruno Pontecorvo: details under, What’s On, The Royal Institution. Graham will be chairing the event.

Radio 4, UK

Graham will be one of the critics on this week’s ‘Saturday Review’ on Radio 4 (later on iPlayer). Details will be available here.