Dean Rickles

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Dean Peter Rickles
Born (1977-07-17) July 17, 1977 (age 46)
Hull, England
Alma mater
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Sheffield
Known forWork on quantum gravity and string theory and symmetry
AwardsAustralian Research Council, Future Fellowship
Australian Research Fellowship
Scientific career
FieldsPhilosophy and History and Physics
InstitutionsUniversity of Sydney
Doctoral advisorSteven French
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Dean Rickles (born July 17, 1977) is Professor of History and Philosophy of Modern Physics at the University of Sydney and a Director of the Sydney Centre for Time.

Early Life

Dean Rickles was born in Hull, Yorkshire. He briefly trained as a concert pianist at the London College of Music, before switching to philosophy. He received an MA from Sheffield University (1999) and PhD from the University of Leeds (2004). During a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary in 2005, he worked on the application of complex systems theory to population health.[1][2] He took up a lectureship at the University of Sydney in 2007 and was awarded a five-year Australian Research Council fellowship in 2008 followed by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship in 2014.

He has one daughter, Gaia (born 2004). His spouse is Miroslava Hirnerova. They live in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia.

His primary work has been the interface between the arts and sciences, and between creativity and gravity. His significant contribution is in keeping questions about the fundamentals open while we search for new paradigms to test.


Rickles primary focus is on string theory, quantum gravity, and symmetries. His doctoral dissertation, Quantum Gravity in Philosophical Focus (published as a book in 2007[3]), set the foundations for his oft-quoted work within history of string theory[4][5][6][7] and as well as deepening our understanding of the foundations and history of quantum gravity more generally with a series of studies[8] [9][10] and interviews[11], culminating in his book Covered in Deep Mist: The Development of Quantum Gravity, 1916-1956 (Oxford University Press 2020).

Other philosophical papers include econophysics[12][13], public health[14] and musicology[15], as well as deeper issues such as the question of Why there is anything at all[16].

In a 2012 collaboration with Huw Price, he developed the John Templeton Foundation project New Agendas for the Study of Time: Connecting the Disciplines[17]

Rickles was president of Australian Association for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science (AAHPSSS) and Society (2012-2014). He is also a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and the Foundational Questions Institute. He co-edits the Routledge Studies in the Philosophy of Mathematics and Physics[18] with Elaine Landry.

Selected works

  • Covered in Deep Mist: The Development of Quantum Gravity, 1916-1956 (Oxford University Press 2020)
  • What is Philosophy of Science? (Polity Press 2020)
  • Quantum Gravity in the First Half of the 20th Century: A Sourcebook, co-authored with Alex Blum. (Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge 2018)
  • Thinking about Science, Reflecting on Art, co-edited with O. Bueno, G. Darby, and S. French (Routledge 2017)
  • Dualities in Physics, co-edited with Elena Castellani (Special issue: Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 2017)
  • Philosophy of Physics (Polity Press 2016)
  • Information and Interaction: Eddington, Wheeler, and the Limits of Knowledge, co-edited with Ian Durham (Springer 2016)
  • A Brief History of String Theory: From Dual Models to M-Theory (Springer 2014)
  • Principles of Quantum Gravity, co-edited with Karen Crowther (Special issue: Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 2014)
  • Structural Realism: Structure, Object, and Causality, co-edited with Elaine Landry (The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science, Volume 77, Springer 2012)
  • The Role of Gravitation in Physics, co-edited with Cécile DeWitt (Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge, Volume 5, 2011)
  • Ashgate Companion to Contemporary Philosophy of Physics (Ashgate 2008)
  • Symmetry, Structure, and Spacetime, Series on Philosophy and Foundations of Physics, Volume 3 (Elsevier 2007)
  • The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity, co-edited with Steven French and Juha Saatsi (Oxford University Press 2006)


  1. "A simple guide to chaos and complexity", 10.1136/jech.2006.054254
  2. "Causality in complex interventions", 10.1007/s11019-008-9140-4
  4. "A Brief History of String Theory From Dual Models to M-Theory",
  5. Rickles, D., 2011, A philosopher looks at string dualities,
  6. "AdS/CFT duality and the emergence of spacetime",
  7. Rickles D., 2010, Mirror Symmetry and Other Miracles in Superstring Theory, arXiv:1004.4491
  8. "Quantum Gravity in the First Half of the Twentieth Century",
  9. "The Role of Gravitation in Physics",
  10. Rickles, Dean, 2010, Quantum Gravity: A Primer for Philosophers, PhilSci, 2008 |url= |
  12. "Econophysics for philosophers",
  13. "Econophysics and the Complexity of Financial Markets",
  14. "Public Health",
  15. "Some philosophical problems of music theory (and some music-theoretic problems of philosophy)",
  16. Rickles, Dean (2014). "Closer to the truth: Why is there anything at all? on PBS-TV (Part 1)". Closer To The Truth.
  18. [

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