ARB Research Seminar
This page updated June 19, 2013
Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil
David L. Goodstein, Ph.D., Provost and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology
November 30, 2006
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA
The world will soon start to run out of cheap, easily produced oil. If we turn to the other fossil fuels to replace the missing oil, we might do incalculable damage to the climate of our planet, and we are likely to start running out of all fossil fuels, coal included, by the end of this century. We will take a careful look at this situation and all of its ramifications.
David L. Goodstein, Ph.D., is vice provost and professor of physics and applied physics
at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, where he has been on the faculty for more than 35 years.
In 1995 he was named the Frank J. Gilloon Distinguished Teaching and Service Professor. In 1999, Dr. Goodstein
was awarded the Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers, and in 2000, the John P. McGovern
Medal of the Sigma Xi Society.
His book, States of Matter, published in 1975 by Prentice Hall and reissued by Dover Press in 1985, was hailed by Physics Today as the book that launched a new discipline, Condensed Matter Physics. His research, in experimental condensed matter physics, has dealt with phases and phase transitions in adsorbed, two-dimensional matter, ballistic phonons in solids, superfluidity in liquid helium, and critical point phenomena. This work has led to nearly 200 scientific publications. He is currently working on a future flight experiment that will examine the dynamics of the superfluid phase transition in the absence of gravity.
Dr. Goodstein has served on numerous scientific and academic panels, including the Standing Review Board of the Keck Telescope and the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering, an NSF oversight committee that reports to the Congress. He currently serves on a number of NSF advisory committees, and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the California Council on Science and Technology.
Dr. Goodstein was the host and project director of The Mechanical Universe, a 52-part college physics telecourse based on his popular lectures at Caltech. The project, which has been adapted for high school use and translated into ten other languages, has been broadcast on hundreds of public broadcasting stations and has garnered more than a dozen prestigious awards, including the 1987 Japan Prize for television.
In recent times, Dr. Goodstein has become interested in some of the larger issues that affect science as a profession. In a series of articles, colloquia and speeches, he has stressed and analyzed the profound changes in science that became inevitable in the last few decades when its long period of exponential expansion came to an end. He has also turned his attention to issues related to conduct and misconduct in science. Prompted by the need to compose a set of regulations governing possible misconduct at Caltech, he has developed an academic sub-specialty in this area, writing and speaking about it in a variety of forums. Together with his colleague, professor of philosophy James Woodward, he has developed a course, Research Ethics, which has been taught each year at Caltech since the early 1990s. His writings related to both of these subjects have recently appeared in issues of the Sigma Xi journal, American Scientist.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Goodstein attended Brooklyn College and received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Washington. He lives in Pasadena with his wife, Dr. Judith R. Goodstein, who is a faculty associate in history at Caltech, where she serves as university archivist. The Goodsteins have two grown children, two grandchildren, and have recently co-authored a best-selling book, Feynman's Lost Lecture.