'66 Tiger Talks


Adventures in Science and Politics


by Joel Primack '66


Wednesday, November 17, 4:00 EDT


Dear '66 Classmates,


Here we are at '66 Tiger Talk #3. If you saw either or both of the first two, by John Heminway and T.R. Reid, you understand how special these can be. And anyone who knows Joel Primack knows his talk will be special also.


As many of you know, Joel is our Valedictorian. In 2019 he also received the '66 Locomotive Award for his many contributions in physics and the intersection of science and society; he has been a pioneer in both.


Joel is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UC Santa Cruz, and has done groundbreaking work in particle physics and cosmology.  He is co-author of the theory of cold dark matter and continues pursuing that topic plus dark energy, one of the great unsolved mysteries of the universe.  He will talk about some of his latest work.


But every bit as important, he has worked energetically and effectively in the public policy arena. Just to list a few examples:

  • As far back as his valedictory speech in 1966, he spoke of "the dark side of the scientific and technical revolution," words which were praised by honorary doctorate recipient J. Robert Oppenheimer.
  • In grad school, Joel and fellow physicist and valedictorian Bob Jaffe '68 organized the Stanford Workshops on Political and Social Issues (SWOPSI), courses in which students earned academic credit for research intended to improve the world, a program which ran for 20 years (in fact Ned Groth '66 led a SWOPSI workshop on Bay Area air pollution).
  • In 1973 Joel started the Congressional Science and Technology Fellowship program, through which over 2,000 Ph.D. scientists have now served on Congressional staffs.
  • He created the Program on Science and Human Rights within the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • Among many awards, in 2016 he received the 2016 Leo Szilard Lectureship Award for outstanding accomplishments in promoting the use of physics for the benefit of society in such areas as the environment, arms control, and science policy. And in 2020, as many of us slumbered by the fire, he received the Lilienfeld Prize from the American Physical Society, "For seminal contributions to our understanding of the formation of structure in the universe, and for communicating to the public the extraordinary progress in our understanding of cosmology."
  • In addition to many other publications, Joel also collaborated with his wife Nancy Abrams on two books which attempt to connect science and spirituality.  You can read about both here. We're happy to say that Nancy will join Joel for part of the presentation.

Joel will speak about all these matters, and will tell the story of the very unusual way he ended up at Princeton.


This '66 Tiger Talk will be on Wednesday, November 17, at 4:00 p.m. ET (1:00 p.m. ET). Click here to join no sooner than 15 minutes before the start time (the link is also under "Upcoming Events" on the Class Website). No registration is needed. We suggest you sign in 15 minutes early so we can have social conversation beforehand.


If you missed the Heminway and Reid sessions, click on the name for the YouTube video recording. Going forward, all previous Tiger Talks will be accessible directly from "Recent News" column on the left side of the "splash" (home) page.


p.s. Is there a classmate you'd like to hear on '66 Tiger Talks? Would you like to be a speaker? Please send details (including a summary of the topic) to Steve Harwood at zzz9harwood@gmail.com or reply directly to this email.