Institute for the Metaphysics of Physics Launches
Last month, Principia College founded the Institute for the Metaphysics of Physics with Dr. Laurance Doyle as director. Activities will begin in early January. “The purpose of the institute is to research, educate, publish, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and humanity about the revolution going on in physics, particularly in quantum physics,” says Dr. Doyle, principal investigator and astrophysicist at the SETI Institute in California.
He goes on to note that, as a school for Christian Scientists, “Principia College is particularly well equipped to participate in the metaphysics (underlying reality) of these academic discoveries, which Mary Baker Eddy foresaw and discovered. Principia students should be ground-level participants in a revolution going on in the physics world with respect to observation, reality, the insubstantiality of matter, and the fundamental role of consciousness in science.”
The institute opens opportunities for student and faculty research, particularly in the area of metaphysics as it relates to quantum physics. While the institute will be of special interest to math, physics, computer science, and chemistry majors, its activities will be open to all students. Participating students will have opportunities to engage in ongoing research about quantum astronomy, among other disciplines, at the SETI Institute as well as other research organizations.
Opportunities like these prepare students especially well for graduate work. “Even one research paper will distinguish an undergraduate as a serious researcher when applying for graduate school,” Doyle notes. “We want students (and faculty) to conduct and write about [their] research and field experiences, which is a step up toward graduate school compared to just reading about other people’s research.”
Doyle’s interest in astronomy began at age six when his father gave him a map of the solar system—he was hooked! A natural teacher, Doyle was delivering weekly astronomy lessons to a group of neighborhood children at his home by the time he was 10. Focused on the sciences throughout his education, he earned a BS and MS in astronomy from San Diego State University and a PhD in physics from the University of Heidelberg.
In addition to astronomical data research about extrasolar planets at SETI and with the NASA Kepler spacecraft program, Doyle has studied patterns in animal communication, particularly humpback whales, to develop concepts of information theory useful for identifying communications from outside our solar system. He was one of only three scientists working on identifying extra-solar system planets 10 years before they were confirmed to exist. In May 2013 he testified before the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives about “other earths.” He is also known for his discovery of the first known “Tatooine” planet circling two suns, called a “circumbinary planetary system.”
“Principia College is the natural place to discuss the revolution of ideas in physics due to our fundamental understanding of metaphysics,” says College provost Dr. Scott Schneberger. “We are especially pleased to welcome such a renowned astrophysicist as the institute’s director.”