The Institute for the Science of Origins is delighhted to collaborate with TEDxCLE to celebrate 100 years of General Relativity with the event TEDxCLE Slaon EINSTEIN100!

Albert Einstein is widely-regarded as one of the greatest physicists of the modern era. His crowning intellectual achievement, General Relativity, still guides us and challenges us 100 years later. We’re excited to celebrate, debate, extrapolate (and maybe even “poke the box” a bit) around Einstein’s work…and what it means for our shared future.

Please enjoy the talks below!


Claudia De Rham


Claudia de Rham is an assistant professor of physics at Case Western Reserve University. Her research is in the area of theoretical cosmology, and she is interested in exploring field theory models of gravity which could account for the accelerated expansion of the Universe. In particular she has been at the forefront of the development of theories of Massive Gravity where the graviton, the particle carrier of the gravitational force may be massive.

She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge on Braneworld models, and went on to perform postdoctoral research at McGill University, McMaster University and the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics in Canada. She was an SNF Professor at University of Geneva before moving to Case Western Reserve.


Glenn Starkman


Glenn Starkman is Professor of Physics and Astronomy and director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He also directs the Institute for the Science of Origins, a partnership of CWRU, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and ideastream, Northeast Ohio’s public media umbrella organization.

An alumnus of the University of Toronto, Canada (his native city), with a PhD in Physics from Stanford University, Glenn’s research career took him to the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and to a joint position with the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research before bringing him to Case Western Reserve. His research has extended from searching for habitable planets around other stars to understanding the shape of the universe, from looking for miniature black holes in particle accelerators to extending and testing Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. In 2003 he was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Starkman is dedicated to advancing the role of research universities in education at all levels. He led Case Western Reserve University’s 1999-2000 President’s Commission on Undergraduate Education and Life, a holistic examination of the life and learning experiences, and then served as Associate Provost leading the implementation of the resulting recommendations. He was among the founding board members of the Reinvention Center, a national center focused on undergraduate education at research universities.

As Director of the Institute for the Science of Origins, Glenn hosts the weekly Origins Science Scholars lecture series and the accompanying Origins television series on WVIZ/World.

John Ruhl



Over the past 25 years John Ruhl has built and used instruments to measure the properties of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, a remnant glow from the Big Bang. His current projects focus on finding a signature of Cosmic Inflation imprinted by gravity waves created at the birth of our universe. These measurements – done from the South Pole station in Antarctica and from stratospheric balloons – have taught us an enormous amount about the cosmos, which we can only understand in the context provided by General Relativity.

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Ruth Gregory


Ruth Gregory’s research centers on the interface between fundamental high energy physics and cosmology. Having studied at Cambridge University, she obtained a degree in mathematics. She went on to earn her PhD in Particle Cosmology with Stephen Hawking’s relativity group. While in Chicago as a postdoctoral researcher she spent three years at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and two years at the Fermi Institute in the University of Chicago.

After concluding her work in Chicago, Gregory returned to the UK with a five-year Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council advanced fellowship at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in Cambridge. She subsequently moved to Durham on a Royal Society University Research Fellowship where she became a Professor of Mathematics and Physics in 2005.

Ruth was awarded the 2006 Maxwell Medal by the Institute of Physics for her research in Theoretical Physics and Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award in 2011.  She is also a managing editor of  International Journal of Modern Physics D, sits on various advisory panels and research committees.

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Nergis Mavalvala


Nergis Mavalvala is a physicist whose research links the world of quantum mechanics, usually apparent only at the atomic scale, with some of the most powerful, yet elusive, forces in the cosmos.  She received a B.A. from Wellesley College in 1990 and a Ph.D.  from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997. She was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the California Institute of Technology between 1997 and 2002. Since 2002, she has been on the Physics faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she is now a Professor of Physics and recipient of a 2010 MacArthur “genius” award. In her spare time, she loves to bicycle long distances, playing sports, and hanging out with her family.

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Paul Steinhardt



Paul Steinhardt is a theoretical physicist whose research spans cosmology, astrophysics, particle physics, condensed matter physics, geophysics and photonics. He is one of the architects of inflationary cosmology, a modification of the big bang theory that proposes to explain the large scale structure of the universe. He also the first to demonstrated phenomenon known as eternal inflation, an unintended consequence of inflation and quantum physics that leads to a multiverse, instead of the smooth and flat universe that inflation was supposed to create. This led him to become a skeptic and to develop competing alternatives, such as the cyclic theory of the universe, in which the big bang is replaced by a big bounce.

Steinhardt’s other research includes novel theories for dark energy, such as quintessence, and for dark matter. In condensed matter physics, he introduced the concept of quasicrystals, a new phase of solid matter with rotational symmetries forbidden for conventional crystals. In 2011, he led a search that discovered the first natural quasicrystals at a remote site in far northeastern Russia. He is also working towards new designer materials for photonic communications and computer devices.

Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor in Science and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University. He is a Fellow in the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He shared the P.A.M. Dirac Medal in 2002 for his contributions to the inflationary model of the universe; the Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society in 2010 for his contribution to the theory of quasicrystals; and the John Scott Award in 2012 for his search and discovery of the first natural quasicrystals.  He is the author of over 200 refereed articles, ten patents, three technical books, and, in 2007, co-authored Endless Universe: The Big Bang and Beyond, a popular book on contemporary theories of cosmology.

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Stacy McGaugh


Professor Stacy McGaugh studies galaxies, cosmology, and the mass discrepancy problem. His primary interest is in low surface brightness galaxies. These diffuse objects tell us a great deal about galaxy formation and evolution. He has worked extensively on galaxy dynamics, showing that the Tully-Fisher relation is fundamentally a relation between the rotation speed of a spiral galaxy and its baryonic mass (the sum of stars and gas). He successfully predicted the velocity dispersions of many of the dwarf satellite galaxies of Andromeda as they were discovered. His contributions to cosmology include the quantitatively accurate prediction of the amplitude ratio of the first-to-second peak of the acoustic power spectrum of the cosmic microwave background.

Professor McGaugh was a student at MIT, Princeton, and the University of Michigan. He held research fellowships at the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Cambridge, the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and Rutgers University. Prior to joining the faculty at Case Western Reserve, McGaugh was a professor in the Astronomy department at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is currently the Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Director of the Warner & Swasey Observatory.

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