Prof. David Helfand Talk - The Universal Timekeeper

The Universal Timekeeper: Reconstructing History Atom by Atom.

Our very own Prof. Helfand had given us well-attended talks on how to survive the misinformation age by cultivating scientific habits of mind, and on evidence-based climate change.

We are fortunate to have Prof. Helfand coming back, this time to give us a talk on how both stable and radioactive isotopes allow atoms to act as microscopic historians. 

Learn how atoms and their nuclei, through a wide variety of physical and chemical techniques, can be used to reconstruct quantitatively the past, from twentieth-century art forgeries to the beginning of time itself.

To register, provide information and click "SEND RSVP." The RSVP email you receive has a link to click and complete a form to receive Zoom login details.


Prof. Helfand will discuss how:

  • Atoms are imperturbable clocks and unimpeachable signposts, identical throughout the Universe.
  • We can use atoms to detect art forgeries and unambiguously date archeological artifacts.
  • We can reconstruct the details of prehistorical human diet and chart the development of agriculture.
  • We can generate a detailed history of Earth's climate stretching back millions of years.
  • We can employ atoms to date the origin of life, the formation of the solar system, and the history of the Universe itself.


About Professor Helfand


David J. Helfand, now in his 45th year as a faculty member at Columbia, served nearly half of that time as Chair of the Department of Astronomy.

He is the author of over 200 scientific publications and has mentored 22 Ph.D. students, but most of his pedagogical efforts have been aimed at teaching science to non-science majors.

He instituted the first change in Columbia's famed Core Curriculum in 50 years by introducing the course Frontiers of Science, now required for all first-year students.

In 2005, he joined an effort to create Canada's first independent, non-profit university, Quest University Canada, where he served as President & Vice-Chancellor from 2008-2015. 

He also recently completed a four-year term as President of the American Astronomical Society and is currently Chair of the American Institute of Physics.

His first book, "A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age" appeared, appropriately, in 2016.


To Order from Amazon, click on the book image above.


April 07, 2022 at 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Zoom Meeting


Ben Nneji


Will you come?