PULLMAN, Wash. – Richard A. Muller, author of “Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines,” will present the 2011-12 Common Reading Invited Lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, in Beasley Coliseum at Washington State University.
 
The University of California-Berkeley physics professor will discuss “Physics for Future Presidents: An Update for 2011.”
“Dr. Muller’s presentation is sure to add new dimensions to our understanding of topics raised in his book,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education and dean of the University College. “His interactions on campus with students, faculty and staff will enrich the common reading experience overall.”
 
The free, public event is hosted by the University College, of which the Common Reading Program is a part.
 
“Physics for Future Presidents” is being used by thousands of students in dozens of first-year and higher classes university-wide. One of many books evaluated by a selection committee, it was one of a handful presented to Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick F. Bayly, who made the final selection.
 
The book is based on Muller’s renowned Berkeley course for non-science students. Intended to explain basic science and how it relates to issues, the text uses little math while covering topics such as terrorism, energy, nuclear power, space and global warming. Muller looks at history, misinformation and hype while pointing to a more logical, scientific approach.
 
“In an era when national organizations and our own faculty call for increased scientific literacy among our students, the timing couldn’t be better for Dr. Muller’s book to be used as the common reading,” Bayly said.
 
Muller, who is also faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory associated with the Institute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics, is a frequent guest on broadcast media, writes for popular magazines and has authored several books. He is writing “Energy for Future Presidents.”
 
“What does a future U.S. president need to know about energy?” he asks. “It is at the heart of our national security, both military and economic, and it is central to the decisions made not only by presidents, but also by every citizen.”
 
And though a future president would have excellent advisors, their advice would conflict because each is a specialist. A leader, Muller said, would have to understand how the advisors came to their opinions and then balance the advice.
 
Common reading book authors are invited annually to lecture at WSU. Muller is the fifth. Past speakers have included Greg Mortenson, Michael Pollan, Mary Roach and Gina Kolata, who wrote, respectively, “Stones into Schools,” “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,” and “Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It.”
 
While thousands have attended each of the lectures, many more thousands of freshmen since 2007 have gone to a total of more than 50 Common Reading Tuesdays events intended to bring home topics from the books in a local and personal way. Presentations have included lectures by faculty and guest experts, art and photo exhibits, panel discussions, food-related events and film screenings.  Faculty and staff from all colleges, the residence halls, and the libraries have helped to make the program successful.
 
More information about Muller can be obtained online by entering his name in a search engine or going to his website at http://muller.lbl.gov/.
 
For more information about his WSU lecture, check back often at http://CommonReading.wsu.edu.
 

Sources: 
Karen Weathermon, University College/Common Reading Program, kweathermon@wsu.edu, 509-335-5488
Susan Poch, University College/Common Reading Program, poch@wsu.edu, 509-335-7767

Media contact:
David Clarke, University College, david.h.clarke@email.wsu.edu, 509-335-8070