Jeremy Liebman nominations physicist and cosmologist Max Tegmark

The MIT physicist and cosmologist Max Tegmark has been a significant, though perhaps unlikely, recent influence on my work. In Our Mathematical Universe as well as in his published scientific papers, Tegmark joyfully probes the essential nature of things, examining both the very large and the very small, including quantum effects, the expansion of the universe, and the existence of different types of alternate universes. As a photographer, my interest has been in working with the outside world and taking it as it is, showing unusual phenomena, occasionally intervening, but never creating from whole cloth. My intent has always been to show how the world actually is, rather than a tidy, pictorial fiction. This approach requires me to acknowledge the fundamental imprecision that exists in any subjective experience, but to try to overcome that imprecision to reach for the universal. Similarly, Tegmark takes a Neo-Platonist approach to science, acknowledging the arbitrary nature of our perception, while maintaining a belief in a fundamental, organizing principal. Finally, Tegmark presents his theories with an admirable and inspiring humor and curiosity, maintaining his scientific rigor, but still struck with awe by the natural world. 

Max Tegmark, Our Mathematical Universe, pictured:

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