Arthur Zajonc

Last updated

Arthur Guy Zajonc ( /ˈz.ənts/ ZAY-ənts; born 11 October 1949, Boston, Massachusetts) is a physicist and the author of several books related to science, mind, and spirit; one of these is based on dialogues about quantum mechanics with the Dalai Lama. Zajonc, professor emeritus at Amherst College as of 2012, [1] has been teaching there since 1978. He has served as the General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America. From January 2012 to June 2015 he was president of the Mind and Life Institute. [2] [3]



Zajonc received a B.S. in engineering physics from the University of Michigan in 1971. He received an M.S. (1973) and Ph.D. (1976) in physics at the University of Michigan as well. From 1976-1978 he was a research associate at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado and the National Bureau of Standards, Boulder, Colorado.

Zajonc became an assistant professor of physics at Amherst College in 1978, and was promoted to associate professor in 1984 and full professor in 1991. In 2006 he became an Andrew W. Mellon Professor at Amherst. He retired from this position in 2011, and is now Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus at Amherst College. [4]

From 1981-82 he was a Visiting Associate Professor of Physics at the École Normale Supérieure at the Laboratoire de Spectroscopie Hertzienne in Paris. In 1984 was a Visiting Research Physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching (Munich), Germany with H. Walther. In 1986 he was a visiting scientist at the Institute for Quantum Optics at Leibniz University Hannover in Germany. In 1991 he was a visiting scientist at the Department of Physics at the University of Rochester with L. Mandel. In 1993 he was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria teaching and doing research on the experimental foundations of quantum physics.

Zajonc was the physics department chairman at Amherst College for three different appointments: 1987–1989, 1998–2000, and 2005–present. Later that same year [ when? ] he was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Fetzer Institute. He was the Senior Program Director of the Fetzer Institute 1995–1997. He was the director for the Academic Program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society from 2004 to 2009, and served as Executive Director from 2009 to 2012. In this role, he focused the organization's work on the development and application of contemplative practices within higher education.

Zajonc held a number of dialogues with the Dalai Lama in 1997 which were published in 2004 under his scientific coordination and editorship as Dalai Lama: The New Physics and Cosmology. He was moderator for the 2003 dialogue with the Dalai Lama at MIT.

Other accomplishments


See also

Related Research Articles

Physicist Scientist specialising in the field of physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Lee Smolin American cosmologist

Lee Smolin is an American theoretical physicist, a faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo and a member of the graduate faculty of the philosophy department at the University of Toronto. Smolin's 2006 book The Trouble with Physics criticized string theory as a viable scientific theory. He has made contributions to quantum gravity theory, in particular the approach known as loop quantum gravity. He advocates that the two primary approaches to quantum gravity, loop quantum gravity and string theory, can be reconciled as different aspects of the same underlying theory. His research interests also include cosmology, elementary particle theory, the foundations of quantum mechanics, and theoretical biology.

David Bohm American theoretical physicist

David Joseph Bohm was an American scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century and who contributed unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind.

Buddhism and science are considered by various commentators beginning in the twentieth century to be uniquely compatible. While downplaying Buddhism's theological attributes, they assert that Buddhism contains philosophic and psychological teachings that share commonalities with modern scientific and philosophic thought, or they assert that modern Western thinkers were variously influenced by Buddhist concepts. An example of such a claim would be that Buddhism encourages the impartial investigation of Nature — the principal object of study being oneself. Some popular conceptions of Buddhism connect it to modern theories of evolution, quantum theory, and cosmology, though most scientists see a separation between the religious and metaphysical statements of Buddhism and the methodology of science.

Fred Alan Wolf American theoretical physicist

Fred Alan Wolf is an American theoretical physicist specializing in quantum physics and the relationship between physics and consciousness. He is a former physics professor at San Diego State University, and has helped to popularize science on the Discovery Channel. He is the author of a number of physics-themed books including Taking the Quantum Leap (1981), The Dreaming Universe (1994), Mind into Matter (2000), and Time Loops and Space Twists (2011).

Avshalom Elitzur Israeli physicist and philosopher

Avshalom Cyrus Elitzur is an Israeli physicist and philosopher.

Evan Harris Walker, was an American physicist and parapsychologist.

Quantum mysticism is a set of metaphysical beliefs and associated practices that seek to relate consciousness, intelligence, spirituality, or mystical worldviews to the ideas of quantum mechanics and its interpretations. Quantum mysticism is considered by most scientists and philosophers to be pseudoscience or quackery.

Michał Heller Polish theologian

Michał Kazimierz Heller is a Polish professor of philosophy at the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków, Poland, and an adjunct member of the Vatican Observatory staff. He also serves as a lecturer in the philosophy of science and logic at the Theological Institute in Tarnów. A Roman Catholic priest belonging to the diocese of Tarnów, Heller was ordained in 1959. In 2008 he received the Templeton Prize for his works in the field of philosophy.

Sean M. Carroll American theoretical cosmologist

Sean Michael Carroll is a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum mechanics, gravity, and cosmology. He is a research professor in the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics in the California Institute of Technology Department of Physics. He has been a contributor to the physics blog Cosmic Variance, and has published in scientific journals such as Nature as well as other publications, including The New York Times, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist.

Charles W. Misner American physicist

Charles W. Misner is an American physicist and one of the authors of Gravitation. His specialties include general relativity and cosmology. His work has also provided early foundations for studies of quantum gravity and numerical relativity.

B. Alan Wallace American author, translator, teacher, researcher, interpreter, and Buddhist practitioner

Bruce Alan Wallace is an American author and expert on Tibetan Buddhism. His books discuss Eastern and Western scientific, philosophical, and contemplative modes of inquiry, often focusing on the relationships between science and Buddhism. He is founder of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies.

14th Dalai Lama Current Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama is the current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, which was formally headed by the Ganden Tripas. From the time of the 5th Dalai Lama to 1959, the central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the position of Dalai Lama with temporal duties.

The Fetzer Institute is a private operating foundation based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, US, founded by broadcaster and former Detroit Tigers baseball team owner John E Fetzer. Since its founding in 1962, the Fetzer Institute has been interested in individual and community health and wholeness, from its early days of mind-body health research to its current mission of fostering awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community. As an endowment, the institute has supported reconciliation projects in Colombia, Rwanda, and South Africa. It has also funded development projects in the US such as Camp Abilities, a New York-based sporting camp for visually impaired children and Baltimore Clayworks, a community arts program for inner city residents.

Love is the core energy that rules everything is the one ingredient that holds us all together.

Mind and Life Institute American research institute for contemplative neuroscience

The Mind & Life Institute is a US-registered, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1991 to establish the field of contemplative sciences. Based in Charlottesville, Va., the institute provides a home for scholars and scientists from different disciplines around the world to incorporate contemplative practices into various fields of study. Mind & Life unifies and catalyzes this community by funding research projects and think tanks, and by convening academic conferences and dialogues with the Dalai Lama.

Wolfgang P. Schleich German physicist

Wolfgang P. Schleich is professor of theoretical physics and director of the quantum physics department at the University of Ulm.

Jeremy Bernstein is an American theoretical physicist and science essayist.

<i>The Universe in a Single Atom</i> book by Tenzin Gyatso

The Universe in a Single Atom is a book by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and published in 2005 by Morgan Road Books. In this book Dalai Lama engages in several scientific areas. He explores the topics of quantum physics, cosmology, consciousness and genetics in relation to Buddhism.

Contemplative neuroscience is the field in which neuroscience tools, like fMRI, are used to study the effects of meditation; B. Alan Wallace is a founder of the field. It often emphasizes Buddhist approaches to contemplation and meditation, and conflates meditation with various contemplative practices.

R. Adam Engle American lawyer

R. Adam Engle is an American social entrepreneur who initiated and developed the Mind and Life Dialogues between the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet and panels of prominent scientists in the 1980s. Over the 22 years of his subsequent tenure as chief executive of the Mind and Life Institute, which he co-founded in 1990, his work contributed significantly to the establishment of contemplative science as a new field of research.


  1. "Arthur Zajonc and Michael McCullough". On Being with Krista Tippett. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  2. O'Brien, Chris (December 8, 2011). "Arthur Zajonc Appointed as the New President of the Mind & Life Institute". Mind & Life Institute. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012.
  3. Jinpa, Thupten (June 25, 2015). "With our Most Sincere Gratitude to Arthur Zajonc, In His Transition from the Mind & Life Presidency". Mind & Life Institute.
  4. "Curriculum Vitae". Archived from the original on 2007-07-01.Curriculum vitae posted on Zajonc's personal website.