Arts & Entertainment

James Owen Weatherall, author of The Physics of Wall Street to speak at FDU and in Morristown

April 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

James Owen Weatherall, author of The New York Times’ bestseller, The Physics of Wall Street, will speak at The College at Florham of Fairleigh Dickinson University on Wednesday, April 23, at 2 p.m. and will also speak at Morris Arts on Thursday, April 24, from 6:30-7:45 p.m., in conversation with FDU faculty, David Grand, author of the recently published, critically-acclaimed novel, Mount Terminus.

Admission is free and open to the public for both events.

On Wednesday, April 23, the event will take place in the Orangerie in the Monninger Center, at the College at Florham.

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Weatherall will talk about his book and answer questions about the intersections of finance and physics. Weatherall is an alumnus of FDU’s MFA program in Creative Writing and now teaches Logic and the Philosophy of Science at UC-Irvine.

The event on April 24 will be co-sponsored by the MFA in Creative Writing at FDU and Morris Arts. Morris Arts is located at 14 Maple Ave, Morristown, NJ, and the event will take place on the third floor.

Weatherall will discuss Science and Writing with his friend and mentor, the novelist, David Grand, author of the recent novel, Mount Terminus. Refreshments will be served.

“After the economic meltdown of 2008, Warren Buffett famously warned, ‘beware of geeks bearing formulas.’ But as James Weatherall demonstrates, not all geeks are created equal. While many of the mathematicians and software engineers on Wall Street failed when their abstractions turned ugly in practice, a special breed of physicists has a much deeper history of revolutionizing finance. Taking us from fin-de-siècle Paris to Rat Pack-era Las Vegas, from wartime government labs to Yippie communes on the Pacific coast, Weatherall shows how physicists successfully brought their science to bear on some of the thorniest problems in economics, from options pricing to bubbles.

The 2008 crisis was partly a failure of mathematical modeling. But even more, it was a failure of some very sophisticated financial institutions to think like physicists. Models—whether in science or finance—have limitations; they break down under certain conditions. At that time, sophisticated models fell into the hands of people who didn’t understand their purpose, and didn’t care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science.

The solution, however, is not to give up on models; it's to make them better. Weatherall reveals the people and ideas on the cusp of a new era in finance. We see a geophysicist use a model designed for earthquakes to predict a massive stock market crash. We discover a physicist-run hedge fund that earned 2,478.6% over the course of the 1990s. And we see how an obscure idea from quantum theory might soon be used to create a far more accurate Consumer Price Index.

Both persuasive and accessible, The Physics of Wall Street is riveting history that will change how we think about our economic future.”

“David Grand's Mount Terminus is a dark, majestic novel about art, family, overwhelming love, and the birth of Los Angeles”

“I look to David Grand not just as a fellow writer but as a master of his craft. Mount Terminus is dark, elegant, and rich, his best book to date. It is also one of the finest, most elegiac novels about California I’ve ever read," wrote award-winning author Gary Shteyngart.

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