Scientific Colloquium
March 13, 2024,  3:00 P.M.
Building 3, Goett Auditorium

"Beyond Genius: A Journey Through the Characteristics and Legacies of Transformative Minds"

Genius, like other human qualities, comes in degrees, from the "ordinary" to the "magician" to the "transformative genius." Professor Atalay will speak about genius, with a special focus on transformative geniuses in the arts and sciences, a handful of individuals who far transcend "ordinary geniuses"and completely define their fields - Leonardo, Shakespeare, Newton, Beethoven, and Einstein. The quintet includes two artists, two scientists, and a scientist-artist with a functionally symmetric mind. The lecture will focus on internal and external conditions that help create these ornaments of our species. Recreating these conditions will never make us another Leonardo or an Einstein, but it cannot fail to make us more creative and productive than we would be otherwise. This lecture is geared toward general scientists and just as accessible to artists, astrophysicists, musicians, and mathematicians...

About the Speaker:

Scientist, artist, and author Bulent Atalay has been described by NPR, PBS, the Washington Post, and National Geographic as a "Modern Renaissance Man." His academic background is in theoretical physics, distilled from work at Georgetown, the University of California-Berkeley, Princeton, Oxford, and the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton. He is the author of three books on the intersection of art, science, and mathematics. In his best-selling books, Math and the Mona Lisa (Smithsonian Books, 2004), appearing in 14 languages, and Leonardo's Universe (National Geographic Books, 2009), appearing in two, English and Japanese, the focal point was Leonardo da Vinci. His newest and most ambitious book, Beyond Genius (Pegasus Books), is a compendium of genius in general, with a special focus on the handful of transformative geniuses, Leonardo, Shakespeare, Newton, Beethoven, and Einstein. Copies of the new book will be available for purchase and signing following the talk. Atalay travels around the world lecturing at academic institutions and on cruise ships on the "A-subjects," art, archaeology, astrophysics, atomic physics, and Ataturk, confessing he knows much less about the "B-subjects," business, banking, biology, and botany... He has lectured at Caltech, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, NASA, NIST, and NIH. He is a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Mary Washington and the University of Virginia. He lives in Virginia with his wife. His website is

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