Our last Featured Former Fellows talk of the fall is happening right after Thanksgiving break! These online-only talks occur throughout the year and reunite our Center community with past Fellows from around the globe.
The next Featured Former Fellow will be Erik Curiel on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Erik was a postdoc Fellow at the Center in 2008-09 under then-Center Director John D. Norton. We sat down with Erik ahead of his talk to catch up with him.
1. Where are you now?
I am assistant professor at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (LMU Munich) and Senior Research Fellow at the Black Hole Initiative (Harvard). Between 2016-2019, I split my time eight months inMunich and four months at Harvard; starting this year, I’ll be spending ten months in Munich, two months at Harvard. Munich is home.
2. What are you working on?
I am working on a number of different projects at the moment: writing a book on foundational problems in black hole thermodynamics and semi-classical gravity; writing a series of papers developing a novel account of the structure and semantics of physical theories, including an analysis of the way that theory and experiment make contact with each other; trying to figure out a new way to attack the Measurement Problem; and vigorously championing Pragmatism à la Peirce, Carnap and Stein in contraposition to standard forms of realism and instrumentalism
3. What is your favorite memory of The Center?
My favorite memory of the Center, hmm, that’s hard. I think it’s a 3-way tie. One is pleasantly sozzled karaoke with all the fellows at Bootleggers (with Knickerbocker beers for $1!), followed by heroically dressed hot-dogs and ridiculously large servings of fries at The O. The second is a collective memory, all the weekly fellows’ reading-group meetings. We had a superlative group of fellows my year, collegial and fun as all hell. (It was the Year of the Italian Women.) The third is dropping into John Norton’s office whenever the mood struck me to run some new idea by John and having him invariably analyze and reconstruct it on the spot to present it back to me in marvelously simpler, clearer, and more illuminating form.
4. Greatest non-professional achievement since leaving the Center
My greatest non-professional achievement—continually learning to be an ever more psychologically well adjusted and healthier person as I grow older.
5. Best book/movie/tv you’ve seen this year?
I’ll take “this year” to mean going back to May 2020, not the 2021 calendar year. Best book: “The Guermantes Way” (Volume 3 of “À la Recherche du Temps Perdu,” now working on volume 4); best movie: “Céline et Julie Vont en Bateau” (for the 4th or 5th time, but it’s still the best); best tv show: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (again, for the 4th or 5th time, but still the best!).