USC Libraries - USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

University of Southern California

USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

“If there were a single word that might be the academy’s proclamation it would be discovery.”—Sidney Harman

Spring 2012 / Polymathic Pizza - Weird Science
Strings: How is the Cosmos Held Together?


Wednesday, January 25 2012


PLEASE NOTE ROOM CHANGE:  Herklotz Room, Doheny Memorial Library, G24


Open to undergraduates


How does the cosmos—whether one or multiple—hold itself together?  Here’s one theory, strings, the unifying of the universe via a sub-atomic grid that some scientists see as the binding force of the cosmos.   A USC physicist will suggest how this might be happening and the multiple disciplines involved in establishing the process.

Clifford Johnson

Clifford Johnson

Clifford Johnson always wanted to be a physicist and astronomer.  His research focuses on the development of theoretical tools for the description of the basic fabric of Nature.  Johnson believes the tools and ideas often have applications in other areas of physics (and mathematics) too - unexpected connections are part of the fun of research and very polymathic!  Ultimately, Professor Johnson is trying to understand and describe the origin, past, present, and future of the Universe.  This involves trying to describe its fundamental constituents (and their interactions), as well as the Universe as a dynamical object in its own right. He mainly works on (super) string theory, gravity, gauge theory, and M-theory, which leads him to think about things like space-time, quantum mechanics, black holes, the big bang, extra dimensions, quarks, gluons, and so forth.  As a true polymathic practitioner, he is also an accomplished musician.   


Fall 2015 Series

Quadrant Series with Edwin McCann

The Academy for Polymathic Study guides its enquiries through four flexible pathways or Quadrants:  (1) critical and integrative thinking; (2) study of the polymaths; (3) the tapestry of knowledge; and (4) communication.

Learn more

Undergraduate Series:

Polymathic Pizza, Part I: Being (In the World)

Being encompasses the internal and external; the solitary and communal; everydayness and timelessness; and the physical, spiritual, and cerebral, all at once. The fall 2015 Polymathic Pizza series explores being in all these dimensions, with the ultimate aim to be more fulfilled, to be more engaged, and to be more ourselves.

Learn more

Polymathic Workshops, Panels, and Special Events

In Fall 2015, the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study is partnering with leading global and academic institutions and scholars, holding workshops and symposia to explore topics and issues from a polymathic perspctive.   

Learn more

The Goethe Society

The Goethe Society, an undergraduate organization affiliated with the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, will continue its enjoyment of the cultural resources of the USC campus and greater Los Angeles. 

Learn more