Event Recaps | 27 January 2015

Questions that Matter – Making The Cosmos Local


On January 27th, 2015, UC Santa Cruz faculty asked the community to join them in an evening of conversation and connection as they brought questions of the universe down to earth and made the cosmos local. For millennia, people across the globe have searched the sky for answers. They have imagined and reimagined the cosmos, from an infinite and eternal backdrop full of other worlds, to a young Earth encircled by nearby planets and crystal spheres of stars. What is the relation between our lives here on Earth and the wider realm of nearby planets, distant stars, unfathomably faraway galaxies, and a potentially infinite universe—or swarm of universes? Where do we find, or create, meaning in such a picture? This discussion featured Minghui Hu, Professor of History at UCSC, Anthony Aguirre, Professor of Physics at UCSC, and was moderated by Nathaniel Deutsch, Professor of History and Director of The Humanities Institute.

Gorgia Johnson covered Questions That Matter in an article for City On A Hill Press.

You can also stay engaged by watching our video below.

Anthony Aguirre, Professor of physics at UC Santa Cruz, studies the formation, nature, and evolution of the universe, focusing primarily on the model of eternal inflation—the idea that inflation goes on forever in some regions of universe—and what it may mean for the ultimate beginning of the universe and time. He is the co-founder and associate scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute, which supports research on questions at the foundations and new frontiers of physics and cosmology. Learn more at www.anthony-aguirre.com.

 Minghui Hu is an Associate Professor of History at UC Santa Cruz and his research focuses on the intellectual history of early modern China. His monograph “China’s Transition to Modernity: The Classical Vision of Dai Zhen” will be published by the University of Washington Press in 2015. He has organized an international conference “Cosmopolitanism in China, 1600-1950” at UCSC. The multi-authored book, drawn from this conference, will be published under the same tile by Cambria Press in 2015. He is currently working on a new monograph tentatively called “Becoming a Communist: Qu Qiubai and the Formation of Chinese Communist Party.”


Nathaniel Deutsch is a Professor in the Department of History at UC Santa Cruz, where he is also the Co-Director of the Center for Jewish Studies and the Director of the Institute for Humanities Research.

Questions that Matter is a public humanities series developed by UCSC Institute for Humanities Research (IHR) and the community of Santa Cruz. It will bring together in conversation two or more UC Santa Cruz scholars with community residents and students to explore questions that matter to all of us. The series is a part of a strategic initiative of the IHR to champion the role and value of the humanities in contemporary life. At the University of California Santa Cruz, we understand that the humanities are a crucial element of any first-rate liberal arts education. Indeed, what distinguishes the best universities in the United States is the fact that the humanities are an integral part of their core curriculum, along with the arts and sciences. The series is designed as a lecture and conversation, with plenty of time built in for participant questions and answers. The series will be in partnership with Bookshop Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, and the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.