The idea of a "purpose" or "reason why" has a strong hold on the human imagination, and has a special resonance when we think about the universe itself. However, modern science has gradually eroded the role of purpose in our best understanding of nature. This represents an important step forward in human understanding, as we can see how apparently purposeful features of reality arise through undirected laws of nature. But it represents a challenge for questions of morality and meaning. I will argue that purposes can be created or emergent even when they are not fundamental, and that this perspective has important consequences for how we live our lives.
Biography: Dr. Carroll is a theoretical physicist at Caltech in Pasadena, CA doing research on theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. He is especially interested in inflation, the arrow of time, and what happened at or before the Big Bang. He's done work on dark matter and dark energy, modified gravity, topological defects, extra dimensions, and violations of fundamental symmetries. His latest book is The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Higgs Boson Leads us to the Edge of a New World. It's about the Large Hadron Collider, the search for the Higgs Boson, and the people who made it happen.
As an author, he has also written From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time and a graduate textbook, Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity. He has recorded lectures for the Teaching Company on Dark Matter and Dark Energy and the Mysteries of Time. He has maintained a popular blog since 2004.