Instructor Insights

The episode of the Chalk Radio podcast embedded below, featuring an interview with Prof. David Kaiser, covers a vast timespan from the beginning of the universe to the present day. Prof. Kaiser explains that inflationary cosmology helps connect our understanding of quantum fluctuations—what he calls the “jitters” that particles undergo at subatomic levels—to the irregular distribution of matter in the universe. What’s most exciting, he says, is that simulations based on inflationary theory produce predictions that closely match detailed measurements of the cosmos. Later in the interview, Prof. Kaiser discusses how he teaches his course on 20th-century science, seeking to demythologize Albert Einstein (“He was no Einstein as a young person!”) and examining the historical context of the development of nuclear weapons as portrayed in the 2023 film Oppenheimer. He hopes his students will learn to see science not as happening in isolation but as a product and producer of historical events and cultural changes. Lastly, he discusses what he’s learned from his years of teaching the course, and in particular how he helps students who are anxious about writing papers to overcome their fears.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2020
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Lecture Videos
Written Assignments