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Dr. Brian Greene, 2022 Celebration of Leadership Speaker

The Academy Life co-editors and Dr. Greene (Courtesy/Jeremy Morgan)

Columbus Academy hosted Brian Greene, a New York Times  best-selling author and world-renowned professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University on Wednesday, November 16, as the 2022 Celebration of Leadership speaker. 

Our newspaper editors had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Greene in the Trustees Room after his riveting 50-minute talk to the upper school about gravity, outerspace, and the connection between planets.  

After introducing ourselves, we kicked off the interview by asking Dr. Green what sparked his interest in teaching physics.  “I was a math kid when I was little” and “ . . . just loved solving math problems and puzzles. Later on when I found I could actually tell you stuff about the real world . . . it elevated the level of interest enormously . . . that transition . . . happened somewhere fully in high school.”  In Greenes’s high school hygiene class, he “taught a lesson and captured the attention of the class. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to teach.” 

Regarding the confirmation of the theory of quantum entanglement, awarded as the 2022 Nobel Prize in physics, Greene explained that “many would say that quantum entanglement is perhaps the strangest confirmed quality of the universe that we have ever encountered, which is this idea that widely separated objects can behave as though they are right next to each other even if they are on opposite ideas of the universe.”  Greene added the described entangled as “an invisible thread of quantum connection and that Einstein was aware of this possibility but did not think it was true, and thought it was a failure of quantum mechanics that allowed for this. [But] it turns out that not only was it not a failure, but now it has been experimentally confirmed.If you can have two widely separated objects that are as if they are near each other, it suggests the possibility that maybe you could teleport things from one location to another, there is now a quantum version of teleportation. ”

Greene detailed that the past could have an infinite number of realms where this exact scenario is playing out and an infinite more with small differences. When we  asked him to discuss  this concept, he claimed that for all we know there is an infinite number of big bangs just like ours all throughout the universe. If there is a finite number of particles in these isolated big bangs, then there is a finite number of ways these particles could arrange themselves. “Math,” he said,  tells us that as long as this is true, if there is an infinite number of big bangs, then every possible formation of particles, including our own, will happen an infinite number of times.”

On co-founding  the World Science Festival with a local ABC news anchor, who also happens to be his wife, he said it  has been successful online since the pandemic because its many presenters can share their projects with more viewers.

Regarding where schools are missing the mark, Greene believes the future of education is in artificial intelligence, schools could provide AI to a more personalized education to each student.

Of Greene’s many endeavors, he enjoyed hosting the Nova mini-series, adapted as The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, noting his creative control to display his books on the screen.

It was an honor to interview Dr. Brian Greene. Columbus Academy is thankful to have him share his wisdom. The Academy Life  co-editors also thank Ms. Stephanie Campbell for arranging this opportunity for them.


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