Eric Smith, an interdisciplinary scientist examining fundamental questions in astrobiology, gave a presentation on his work at CTI in November 2016. Following his presentation, he participated in a conversation with CTI Member Andrew Davison, moderated by Joshua Mauldin. That conversation is now available on the Fresh Thinking Podcast. Smith, who holds a PhD in physics, and Davison, who holds doctorates in both natural science and in theology, engage in a wide-ranging discussion, touching on such questions as the nature of the living state, metaphors we live by in science and in the humanities, and prospects for interdisciplinary exchange in astrobiology. Click here to listen.
D. Eric Smith received the Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1987, and a Ph.D. in Physics from The University of Texas at Austin in 1993, with a dissertation on problems in string theory and high-temperature superconductivity. From 1993 to 2000 he worked in physical, nonlinear, and statistical acoustics at the Applied Research Labs: U. T. Austin, and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. From 2000 he has worked at the Santa Fe Institute on problems of self-organization in thermal, chemical, and biological systems. A focus of his current work is the statistical mechanics of the transition from the geochemistry of the early earth to the first levels of biological organization, with some emphasis on the emergence of the metabolic network.
Andrew Davison is the Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of Corpus Christi College. He holds undergraduate degrees and doctorates in both natural science (Merton College, Oxford) and theology (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge). His interests lie at the intersection of theology, philosophy and science, including work on astrobiology, finitude, participation, and emergence and hylomorphism.