University of Central Florida Undergraduates Nathaniel Burman and Stormie Futch , whose families live in Bokeelia, attended the FreeFLo (or Freethought Florida) conference in Orlando FL, October 10th – 12th, 2014.
The FreeFLo conference this year boasted big names and topical ideas. About 200 attendees on the 10th viewed a special screening of the new film "The Unbelievers", starring internationally known theoretical physicist, Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss and evolutionary biologist and Oxford Professor, Dr. Richard Dawkins. To the audiences' surprise, Dr. Krauss gave a lecture before the movie screening about his recently published cover article in the October edition of Scientific American titled, “A Beacon from the Big Bang”.
Hardly one to mince words and never shying from well-timed humor, he delivered a lecture illuminating the contents of the article, what it means for the scientific community and our current understanding of the universe. He opened up with a wise-crack directed towards his good friend and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson that had the room in a brief spout of hilarity, but then began to explain his recent article.
Said Nathaniel, "I read the article before attending this lecture and admired his ability to describe such beautiful scenes and make difficult concepts more comprehensible. It answered my questions and gave me a deeper understanding of what was discussed and described in his article."
Scientific American, October 2014 excerpt: "How Big Bang Gravitational Waves Could Revolutionize Physics: If the recent discovery of gravitational waves emanating from the early universe holds up under scrutiny, it will illuminate a connection between gravity and quantum mechanics and perhaps, in the process, verify the existence of other universes."
Nathaniel went on to say, "When I mentioned to him that his lecture was a great addition to his article that I had previously read. Dr. Krauss replied, "This the first time that I’ve actually done something like this, in this format and at an event like this one. I’m happy you enjoyed it. " He was approachable, kind and very charming; which might surprise more than a few people who are familiar with his debates and who may disagree with him with respect to his position on religious matters."
Like other of Einstein's theory's, many of which are still are looking for technology advances for substantiation, this idea was postulated in his General Theory of Relativity published in 1915. Dr. Krauss has developed a complex scientific method for proving this gravitational waves theory. Dr. Krauss, holds a PHD in Physics from MIT and is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, professor, and best-selling author. The "Unbelievers" is currently available on Netflix & Amazon.
Afterwards, the undergrads met and spoke with the film directors, Gus and Luke Holwerda. Nathaniel said, "I offered praise for their film and that it is the best (and only) film available that makes you feel as if you are a part of this great journey that Dr. Krauss & Dr. Dawkins embark on. Too often when watching these important speakers in videos and in large theaters one is too easily removed by the stage, and the sense that these people are larger than life hinders the experience. Their film bridges this gap." Holwerda replied, “That’s exactly what we were trying to do. When we started this project Christopher Hitchens was a part of it too, but unfortunately he became too ill. If Hitchens were still around he would have been in the film.”
There were additional speakers at the convention including: Seth Andrews, host of The Thinking Atheist; Mandisa Thomas, Founder and President of Black Nonbelievers; Stephanie Guttormson, Operations Director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation; and Rebecca Hale, President of the American Humanist Association.
Nathaniel continues, "After chatting only briefly, Rebecca Hale surprised us with her generosity and outwardly kind proposition, by taking Stormie and I out to lunch! How could we refuse? After crossing 8 lanes of traffic we arrived at Friday’s Restaurant which was just next to the convention. We discussed many topics: philosophy, political ideological, labels of liberal and conservative, Islam & western Christianity, and family. She spoke fondly of Christopher Hitchens after we told her that he was one of our literary and debating hero's. She also told us of her helping two Muslims trying to escape persecution and threats on their lives in Pakistan, where they were recently being charged with blasphemy by members of their community. She said, “One young man has been living in a closet for fear that they might find him, and kill him.” She shared that she feels it is her mission to rescue him and bring him to freedom.