David Kaiser is the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society and professor of physics in the Department of Physics. Along with Julie Shah, Kaiser is also associate dean for Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing (SERC) in the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. He and Shah work together to create multidisciplinary connections on campus and to weave social, ethical, and policy considerations into the teaching, research, and implementation of computing.
Kaiser completed an A.B. in physics at Dartmouth College and Ph.D.s in physics and the history of science at Harvard University. His historical research focuses on the development of physics in the United States during the Cold War and looks at how the discipline has evolved at the intersection of politics, culture, and the changing shape of higher education. Kaiser’s physics research focuses on early-universe cosmology, working at the interface of particle physics and gravitation. He has also helped to design and conduct novel experiments to test the foundations of quantum theory.
Kaiser is author of the award-winning book “Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics” (University of Chicago Press, 2005), which traces how Richard Feynman’s idiosyncratic approach to quantum physics entered the mainstream. His book “How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival” (W. W. Norton, 2011) charts the early history of Bell’s theorem and quantum entanglement and was named Book of the Year by Physics World magazine. His most recent book is “Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World” (University of Chicago Press, 2020).
Kaiser serves as Chair of the Editorial Board of MIT Press, and on the advisory boards for Nautilus and Undark magazines. In 2010, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Other honors include the Pfizer Prize for best book in the field (2007) and the Davis Prize for best book aimed at a general audience (2013) from the History of Science Society; and the LeRoy Apker Award for best undergraduate physics student from the American Physical Society (1993). In 2012 Kaiser was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT’s highest honor for excellence in undergraduate teaching. That same year, he also received the Frank E. Perkins Award for excellence in mentoring graduate students. His work has been featured in Science, Nature, the New York Times, and the New Yorker magazine. His group’s efforts to conduct a “Cosmic Bell” test of quantum entanglement were featured in the documentary film Einstein’s Quantum Riddle (2019).