Fear of a Black Universe

Join us for a conversation with cosmologist Stephon Alexander, who argues that great physics requires one to think outside the mainstream—to improvise and to rely on intuition. His approach has led him to three principles that shape all theories of the universe: the principle of invariance, the quantum principle, and the principle of emergence.

Alexander uses these three principles to explore some of physics' greatest mysteries, from what happened before the Big Bang to how the universe makes consciousness possible. Drawing on his experience as a Black physicist, Alexander makes a powerful case for diversifying our scientific communities because—after successfully incorporating a piece of life-changing advice that, in order to discover real physics, he needed to stop memorizing and start taking risks—Alexander has concluded that making further progress in physics probably requires embracing the excluded, listening to the unheard, and being unafraid of being wrong.


George Hammond


MLF: Humanities

This program was rescheduled from September 8, 2021.

Copies of Fear of a Black Universe are available for purchase at checkout (for shipment to domestic U.S. addresses only); our thanks to Marcus Books in Oakland for fulfilling book orders.


Marcus Books


In partnership with Wonderfest.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2021



Image - Stephon Alexander

Stephon Alexander

Professor of Physics, Brown University; Jazz Musician; Author, Fear of a Black Universe: An Outsider's Guide to the Future of Physics

Image - George Hammond

In Conversation with George Hammond

Author, Conversations With Socrates

Commonwealth Club World Affairs

The leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of public issues important to the membership, community and nation. The Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. Each year, we bring hundreds of events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to our members and the public, both in-person and via extensive online and on-air listenership and viewership.

The views of Club speakers are their own and their participation does not constitute or imply endorsement or recommendation by Commonwealth Club World Affairs.

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