Sean Carroll Biography & Facts
Sean Michael Carroll (born October 5, 1966) is an American theoretical physicist who specializes in quantum mechanics, gravity, and cosmology. He is a research professor in the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics in the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Department of Physics and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He has been a contributor to the physics blog Cosmic Variance, and has published in scientific journals such as Nature as well as other publications, including The New York Times, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. He is known for atheism, critique of theism and defense of naturalism. He is considered a very prolific public speaker and science populariser. In 2007, Carroll was named NSF Distinguished Lecturer by the National Science Foundation.
He has appeared on the History Channel's The Universe, Science Channel's Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, Closer to Truth (broadcast on PBS), and Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. Carroll is the author of Spacetime And Geometry, a graduate-level textbook in general relativity, and has also recorded lectures for The Great Courses on cosmology, the physics of time, and the Higgs boson. He is also the author of four popular books: From Eternity to Here about the arrow of time, The Particle at the End of the Universe about the Higgs boson, The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself about ontology, and Something Deeply Hidden about the foundations of quantum mechanics. He began a podcast in 2018 called Mindscape, in which he interviews other experts and intellectuals coming from a variety of disciplines, including "[s]cience, society, philosophy, culture, arts, and ideas" in general.
Carroll received his PhD in astronomy in 1993 from Harvard University, where his advisor was George B. Field. His dissertation was entitled Cosmological Consequences of Topological and Geometric Phenomena in Field Theories. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago until 2006 when he was denied tenure. He is now a research professor at Caltech.
Carroll has a B.S. in Astronomy, Astrophysics and philosophy from Villanova University.In 2010, Carroll was elected fellow of the American Physical Society for "contributions to a wide variety of subjects in cosmology, relativity, and quantum field theory, especially ideas for cosmic acceleration, as well as contributions to undergraduate, graduate, and public science education". In 2014, he was awarded the Andrew Gemant Award by the American Institute of Physics for "significant contributions to the cultural, artistic or humanistic dimension of physics." In 2015, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.He is also a very prolific public speaker, he holds regular talk-show series like The Mindscape which he describes as "Sean Carroll hosts conversations with the world's most interesting thinkers", The Biggest Ideas in the Universe, delivers public speeches as well as getting engaged in public debates in wide variety of topics.
Carroll has appeared on numerous television shows including The Colbert report and Through the Wormhole. He also worked as a consultant in some movies like The Avengers: Endgame and Thor: The Dark World. Besides consulting, Carroll worked as a voice actor in Earth to Echo.
Carroll is married to Jennifer Ouellette, a science writer and the former director of the Science & Entertainment Exchange.
Carroll has worked on a number of areas of theoretical cosmology, field theory and gravitation theory. His research papers include models of, and experimental constraints on, violations of Lorentz invariance; the appearance of closed timelike curves in general relativity; varieties of topological defects in field theory; and cosmological dynamics of extra spacetime dimensions. He has written extensively on models of dark energy and its interactions with ordinary matter and dark matter, as well as modifications of general relativity in cosmology. He has also worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics, especially the Many-Worlds interpretation, including a derivation of the Born Rule for probabilities.
His most-cited work, "Is Cosmic Speed-Up Due To New Gravitational Physics?" (2003) was written with Vikram Duvvuri, Mark Trodden, and Michael Turner. With over 1,900 citations, it helped pioneer the study of f(R) gravity in cosmology.Carroll has also worked on the arrow of time problem. He and Jennifer Chen posit that the Big Bang is not a unique occurrence as a result of all of the matter and energy in the universe originating in a singularity at the beginning of time, but rather one of many cosmic inflation events resulting from quantum fluctuations of vacuum energy in a cold de Sitter space. They claim that the universe is infinitely old but never reaches thermodynamic equilibrium as entropy increases continuously without limit due to the decreasing matter and energy density attributable to recurrent cosmic inflation. They assert that the universe is "statistically time-symmetric," insofar as it contains equal progressions of time "both forward and backward". Some of his work has been on violations of fundamental symmetries, the physics of dark energy, modifications of general relativity, and the arrow of time. Recently he started focusing on issues at the foundations of cosmology, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and complexity.
In 2017, Carroll presented an argument for rejecting certain cosmological models, including those with Boltzmann brains, on the basis that they are cognitively unstable: they cannot simultaneously be true and justifiably believed. The article was solicited as a contribution to a larger work on Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science.
Philosophical and religious views
Carroll, while raised as an Episcopalian, is an atheist, or as he calls it, a "poetic naturalist". He turned down an invitation to speak at a conference sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, because he did not want to appear to be supporting a reconciliation between science and religion.
In 2004, he and Shadi Bartsch taught an undergraduate course at the University of Chicago on the history of atheism. In 2012, he organized the workshop "Moving Naturalism Forward", which brought together scientists and philosophers to discuss issues associated with a naturalistic worldview. His article "Does the Universe Need God?" in The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity develops the claim that science no longer needs to posit a divine being to explain the existence of the universe. The article generated significant attention when it was discussed on The Huffington Post. Carroll received an "Emperor Has No Clothes" award at the Freedom From Religion Foundation An.... Discover the Sean Carroll popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Sean Carroll books.