June 18, 2018 – July 22, 2018


Tasneem Zehra Husain

Tasneem Zehra Husain came to writing via theoretical physics. She received her Ph.D. from Stockholm University and pursued postdoctoral research at Harvard, before returning to her native Pakistan as a founding faculty member at an elite school of science & engineering. Throughout her years in academia, Tasneem was fascinated by the nature of physical theories, how we engage with them, and how the interaction changes us. This spurred an exploration of ways in which to recast the increasingly uneasy relationship between science and the public, and that is where her current interest lies. She is particularly passionate about the need for a more nuanced, more human paradigm in science writing; one that is truer to both the process and the spirit of the endeavor.  

Tasneem has conducted several writing workshops for scientists, including an ongoing series at CERN. Her writing has appeared in Nautilus, as well as various anthologies of science writing for both adults and children. She is a regular columnist for 3quarksdaily.com, and the author of the popular science novel Only The Longest Threads (Paul Dry Books, 2014). For over a decade, Tasneem has been actively involved in outreach. She has worked with K-12 teachers, high-school students, and government officials, both in the U.S. and abroad, and is a frequent speaker at book festivals, science festivals, writing conferences, and physics conferences.



Tuesday, October 9, 2018
4:30-5:30 p.m.
Carpenter 13, Dartmouth College

Fiction and Thought-Experiments

In the rich mental worlds they inhabit, and the elaborate thought structures they create, theoretical physicists and fiction writers have much in common. Each, in their own way, contemplate questions that cannot be settled physically, in situations that are wildly impractical—or downright impossible—to manifest. What would the world look like if I rode a beam of light? wondered Albert Einstein. What might unfold if a prince and a pauper, the very image of each other, traded places? asked Mark Twain. In this talk, we examine the striking similarities between novels and thought-experiments and the crucial role of consciousness in animating both. We explore the tangible outcomes of these imaginary constructs, and discuss how (and why) truth can be excavated from mental models and made-up stories.

Watch video of the lecture →