Katherine Freese is in Stockholm these days since she will be receiving a prestigious Honorary doctorate at Stockholm University on Friday, the 28th September. I met with her in one of the offices at the Oskar Klein Centre in front of cup of coffee to talk a bit with this energetic and fascinating scientist, and try to grab her secrets.
What was you reaction when you heard you will receive this title?
Oh I was very happy, I think it is really an honor to get this. First when Lars told me I was a candidate, and then when I got it, I was very excited. It is going to be great tomorrow. Although I am jetlegget I am not nervous at all, I am excited!
So let’s see if we can get to know a bit about your career then. Lets start from the beginning: how did you get the idea of studying physics and how you turned into a cosmologist?
My parents are both scientists. My father has been student of Heisenberg before turning into biology, and of course the role model I had in my family pushed me for a career in academics. But how did I get into physics, well, that was probably just by chance. I went to a summer school in relativity when I was 15 years old, and I though that was very interesting. But really, I though physics was a kind of broad field that could open many possibilities, and then I was good at it. I think this is the way many people choose what to study, by exclusion, if you are good at something and not every one else is, you have to go for it. I did not have passion for astronomy as a kid, not at all. Isn’t this how most people choose their field of work? I tried a number of different styles of physics (experimental high energy, solid state, etc) then I found my inspiration with cosmology. I was living in Japan for a while after I graduated from Princeton. I was only 20 e I was teaching English, and then I was hospitalized. I was so bored that I took a book called Spacetime Physics, by Taylor and Wheeler, and that really made an impression on me and really turned me on and made me wanting to keep on studying cosmology. And I also felt it was a challenge!