The 29th Ockham Lecture - 'Confirmation, Conviction and Cosmology'

Date: Monday 25 February 2019
Time: 17:00 - 19:00
TS Eliot Theatre, Merton College

Given by Professor Roger Blandford FRS, Luke Blossom Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session.


The past sixty years have seen the transformation of cosmology from a weakly constrained metaphysics to a scientific description based on careful observation and accurate measurement. We now know that the universe expanded from a hot beginning to its present state, dominated by an unidentified 'dark matter' and an enigmatic 'cosmological constant'. In a similar fashion to what has happened with particle physics, this 'standard model' provides a basis for relating the narrative history of galaxies, stars and planets. It also also establishes a starting point for discussion of more fundamental issues, where differences in philosophy find some parallels in the contrasting views of William of Ockham and his contemporaries.

The Ockham Lecture series

The Merton College Physics Lecture (the Ockham, or Occam, Lecture, so named in honour of one of the greatest—if unattested—alumni of the College and of his philosophical principle of intellectual discipline) started in 2009 and is held once a term. It is organised by the physics tutors of the College to promote both intellectual curiosity and social cohesion of the Merton Physics community.

Attendance is by invitation: All Merton physicists (and sympathisers!) belonging to the three Common Rooms (JCR, MCR and SCR) are invited, as are the Old Members. Their guests are also accommodated, space permitting.