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Prof. Troy Van Voorhis (MIT)
Modern science has created the most powerful tools in history for preventing human suffering. From vaccines and antibiotics to sanitation and agriculture, advances in technology have largely eradicated many forms of human suffering. But what of hope? Prof Troy Van Voorhis will make the case that these scientific revolutions have not increased our capacity for hope in the midst of suffering – that any hope we propagate through science ultimately finds its roots in something else. The same can be said of a host of other virtues – compassion, joy and kindness – all must find their roots outside of science.
As a result we must rely on something beyond science to access the hope and compassion necessary for science to continue combatting suffering. Troy Van Voorhis will make the case that the Christian tradition provides a uniquely powerful framework for this something else. His evidence for this point of view will combine historical facts, scientific observations and personal insight.
Troy Van Voorhis is a professor of chemistry at MIT and an expert in electron transfer dynamics, solar energy, and molecular electronics. He received his PhD in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, he joined the faculty of MIT. His research focuses on the intersection of quantum mechanics and chemistry. In particular, his work addresses questions of how solar energy can be efficiently captured and stored. He is the author of numerous scholarly publications and a fellow of the David & Lucille Packard foundation.