Quantum Theory and Medieval Welsh Legends at Harvard
This month, Dr Aled Llion Jones from Bangor University's School of Welsh delivered the keynote lecture at the Harvard Celtic Colloquium. The prestigious annual gathering draws scholars of Celtic Studies from across the US and Europe.
Aled's lecture, offered in the year of the death of Stephen Hawking, applied central concepts in Hawking's work on modern physics and Black Hole theory to ways in which time and space are represented in medieval Welsh and Irish literature. Possibly for the first time at a Celtic Studies conference, and certainly for the first time at the Colloquium, the handout accompanying the lecture was in the form of a Möbius strip whose shape guided the structure of the lecture itself!
Aled said: "While quantum physics and twelfth-century literature might seem to make unlikely bedfellows, there is no good reason why not to look in all directions for good ideas. From the Mabinogi to the prophetic poems of Myrddin and Taliesin, these old texts look at reality in ways which are as sparkling, as puzzling and as magnificent as anything you'll find in A Brief History of Time. It was super to see the Colloquium responding so well to this – above all else, it’s great fun!"
Professor Peredur Lynch of the School of Welsh, himself a renowned scholar of medieval Welsh literature, said: "My first visit to the Harvard Celtic Colloquium was in 1989 as a young and inexperienced research assistant. To encounter north-American Celtic scholarship in its full vigour for the first time was a revelation. By now the Colloquium has long established itself as a fulcrum of innovation and new directions in the field of Celtic Studies. Aled's lecture was not only a dazzling example of that fine tradition, but also a celebration of the extensive academic interaction between us in the School of Welsh at Bangor and our colleagues in Celtic at Harvard."
Publication date: 17 October 2018