Waves Passing in the Night: a talk about astrophysics, harmony, and boundaries

poster for Waves Passing in the Night event at UC Santa Cruz
cover of book by UC Santa Cruz alumnus Lawrence Weschler
UC Santa Cruz alumnus Lawrence Weschler graduated from Cowell College in 1972, where he studied Philosophy and Western Civilization. His new book (above) was just published in January.
Acclaimed writer and UC Santa Cruz alumnus Lawrence Weschler will join Academy Award-winning sound and film editor Walter Murch, and noted campus astronomer Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, for Waves Passing in the Night: Astrophysics, Harmony, and Boundaries, on February 13, at 7 p.m., in the Music Center Recital Hall.

The occasion is a conversation on astrophysics, acoustics, and disciplinary boundaries celebrating Weschler’s brand new book, Waves Passing in the Night: Walter Murch in the Land of the Astrophysicists, just published by Bloomsbury, USA.

The book profiles Murch, a film legend and amateur astrophysicist who is well-known for his work on such classic films as Apocalypse Now, The Godfather trilogy, and The English Patient.

It focuses on Murch’s passion for astrophysics, in particular the rehabilitation of Titius-Bode, a long abandoned 18th century theory regarding the patterns by which planets and moons array themselves in gravitational systems across the universe.

“An amateur scientist investigates oddly musical mysteries in the motion of the planets in this scintillating true-astronomy saga,” noted a review by Publishers Weekly. “Weschler remains sympathetic to both sides in this debate between an inspired novice and skeptical pros, expanding it into a fascinating lesson on the nature of scientific understanding and the ways people seek it.”

Or as film director Errol Morris described it: “An inviting portrait of an admirable and accomplished man. We come to see science as a closed club, science as abstruse and narrow, science as caste. But Weschler allows that it could be the other way around, too--science as protector of truth and progress, science as guardian against kooks.”

“What began as an exploration of a 'far out' but relatable idea from a 'far out' but relatable guy has become instead a study of the praxis of science,” adds Morris. ”Weschler leaves us pondering how firmly we know what we think we know.”

Weschler graduated from Cowell College in 1972, where he studied Philosophy and Western Civilization. A critic, journalist, and author, he was a staff writer at the New Yorker for more than 20 years.

Weschler’s books include Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, for which he was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; Boggs: A Comedy of Values; and Everything That Rises, which received the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.

This event is part of the UC Santa Cruz Original Thinkers series and is sponsored by Cowell College, the Institute for Humanities Research, the Film & Digital Media Department and the Astronomy & Astrophysics Department at UC Santa Cruz.

Tickets to Waves Passing in the Night are $10 (including free parking). Students who register in advance at ihr.ucsc.edu will be admitted free. A dessert reception and book signing will follow the talk. For more information, call (831) 459-5003 or contact specialevents@ucsc.edu