I’m Dr. Adam Becker. I write and speak about science. Specifically, I work for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where I am a Science Writer and Communications Specialist. I’m also writing a new book, about science and Silicon Valley, tentatively scheduled to be published in late 2023.
My first book, What is Real?, is about the unfinished quest for the meaning of quantum physics. The New York Times called it “a thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science.” Quantum physics powers the cell phones in our pockets and the sun in our sky. It’s our most successful theory of the world. But there’s a hole at the heart of the theory: we don’t really understand what quantum physics is saying about the nature of reality. Physicists have debated this for over ninety years, and the story of that debate—the story I tell in my book—reveals a fascinating human side of the scientific enterprise. If you’re not a scientist, but you want to understand quantum physics, and you like reading about science and the people behind it, then this book is for you. If you want a taste of what the book is like, check out this interactive essay based on the book, about the strangest result in all of quantum physics. (And if you want to be the first to get news about the book, my speaking schedule, and my other projects, sign up for email updates here.) Errata for the book are here.
I’d been wanting to write a book about this for years, and I’m still astonished that it actually happened. Thanks to my publishers, Basic Books and John Murray—and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which gave me a generous grant—I was able to spend two years writing this book nearly full-time.
In addition to my book, I’ve written for the New York Times, the BBC, NPR, New Scientist, Scientific American, Aeon, Quanta, NOVA, Undark, and other science media outlets. I recorded a video series with the BBC, and I occasionally tell stories for the Story Collider podcast. I was also a visiting researcher in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at UC Irvine, and before that a visiting scholar in the Office for History of Science and Technology at UC Berkeley.
I used to work at the Public Library of Science (PLOS), an open-access scientific publisher. I was a researcher in the Labs division, where I developed new tools to change the way scientific research results are shared. Before PLOS, I was at New Scientist magazine, where I designed and coded several interactive features for their website. I also wrote about new developments in physics, astronomy, and other areas of science and technology.
I earned a PhD in computational cosmology from the University of Michigan, where I worked with Dragan Huterer in the Physics Department. My thesis was on primordial non-Gaussianity, which is a fancy way of saying that I was trying to find out how much we can learn about the way stuff was arranged in the early universe by looking at the way stuff is arranged in the universe right now. While I was in graduate school, I had some adventures you might enjoy hearing about.
If you want me to come speak at your conference or institution, or if you want to contact me for any other reason, you can drop me a line here. You can also find me on Twitter, or send me an email. And if you want to find out where I’ll be speaking next, you can see my schedule here.