The Universal TimeKeepers - A Talk by Prof. David Helfand

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 evidence-based climate change.

We are fortunate to have Prof. Helfand coming back, this time to talk about how both stable and radioactive isotopes allow atoms to act as microscopic historians, documented in his new book, The Universal Timekeepers: Reconstructing History Atom by Atom. 

Register today. Only 30 seatings available.
To register, input the number of persons attending in the appropriate Member or Non-Member box on the right, then click on PURCHASE TICKETS and follow the instructions to RSVP pay. Non-alcoholic drinks & light refreshments provided.

About the talk:

Atoms are unfathomably tiny. It takes fifteen million trillion of them to make up a single poppy seed—give or take a few billion. And there’s hardly anything to them: atoms are more than 99.9999999999 percent empty space. Yet scientists have learned to count these slivers of near
nothingness with precision and to peer into their internal states. Using their inimitable signatures and imperturbable clocks, we can use them as reliable witnesses to history.

In this lecture, Prof. Helfand will discuss how our atomic companions will allow us to

— ferret out art forgeries and solve archeological puzzles,

— recount a detailed history of human diet and agriculture,

— reconstruct Earth’s climate and infer its implications for our future,

—witness events in the history of life before humans appeared,

—and lay out the history of the little atomic historians themselves back to the creation of their constituent particles in the first microsecond of the Big Bang.

About Professor David Helfand


David J. Helfand, now in his 46th 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.

Prof. Helfand 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. 

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

About the Book

The Universal Timekeepers book may be purchased from Amazon:

or, if you are very patient, with a 20% discount by using the code CUP20
at checkout:

or, if you prefer a personal dedication on an autographed copy from Prof. Helfand
at the talk (for $20).

February 29, 2024 at 6:00pm - 8pm

Greenwich Main Library - 2nd Floor Meeting Room

101 W Putnam Ave
Greenwich, CT 06830
United States

Ben Nneji


Will you come?

$25.00 per person Non-Members & Their Guests Price
$20.00 per person Members & Their Guests Price