George Greenstein

Sidney Dillon Professor of Astronomy, Amherst College


Ph.D, Yale University
B.S. Stanford University


C025 Science Center Amherst College 25 East Drive Amherst, MA 01002

Phone Number: 

(413) 542-2075


(413) 545-4223

Research Interests: 

I am a theoretical astrophysicist, and my early scholarly work was concentrated in this field. I have worked on the physics of the early universe, gravitational radiation, the structure of neutron stars, and pulsars. More recently, I have become interested in the foundations of Quantum Mechanics. Since its inception, this theory has joined Einstein's relativity and Darwin's evolution as a dominating scientific presence. Nevertheless, the theory has steadfastly resisted interpretation within a conventional world-view. My opinion is that the quantum universe forces upon us a radical revision in our conception of the world, and I have been exploring this revision for years. 

Writing: Some time ago, I realized that I was interested in writing about Physics and Astronomy, both for the general public and for college students. Gradually, this took over as my primary scholarly activity. I am the author of three books and numerous magazine articles aimed at the intelligent layperson. I am also the co-author, with Professor Arthur Zajonc of the Physics Department, of an undergraduate textbook on Quantum Mechanics in which its mysteries are emphasized.

Teaching Statement: 

A number of years ago I participated in the teaching of one of Amherst's First-Year Seminars. This experience radically altered my approach to education. For obvious reasons, science instruction is normally conducted in the lecture mode. But my experience in this course, which operated as a seminar, persuaded me of the enormous potential of this form of instruction. As a consequence, I have taken a leadership role in the creation of a series of seminar courses in science. There are currently four of these in our department, and they are distributed through every level of the Astronomy curriculum. They employ the techniques of inquiry-based learning, in which it is the students who forge their own understanding of complex scientific issues. Quite aside from these particular courses, even my lecture courses involve a good deal of this kind of pedagogy.