Philosophical Society of Washington

The Joseph Henry Lectures

Joseph Henry

For Joseph Henry, internationally-renowned physicist, leader of the American scientific community, professor at Princeton, and first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, societies were essential for the progress of science. Formal or informal, local or national, societies provided scientists the critical judgments and appreciation they needed. In helping to found the Philosophical Society of Washington (now PSW Science), Henry attempted to make it the epitome of what a local scientific society should be.

In 1931 the Society inaugurated the Joseph Henry Lectures. They have been sponsored annually (except 1943) by the Society in honor of its first president.

Date Description
May 12, 1961

The 30th Joseph Henry Lecture

New Developments in High Magnetic Field Research

Francis Bitter

May 11, 1962

The 31st Joseph Henry Lecture

The Theory of the Electron

F. Rohrlich

May 10, 1991

The 60th Joseph Henry Lecture

The Case for Ending Drug Prohibition and The Emerging Alternative Addiction Paradigm

Joe G. Foreman

May 15, 1992

The 61st Joseph Henry Lecture

Is It Possible to Construct a Perception Machine?

Gerald M. Edelman

May 14, 1993

The 62nd Joseph Henry Lecture

Origin, Evolution, and Distribution of Life in the Universe

Cyril Ponnamperuma

May 13, 1994

The 63rd Joseph Henry Lecture

Environmental Influences on Brain Structure and Function

Marian Diamond

May 12, 1995

The 64th Joseph Henry Lecture

Designer Brain: Receptor-Neurotransmitter Research, the Scientific and Social-Ethical Implications

Richard M. Restak

May 3, 1996

The 65th Joseph Henry Lecture

How do Protein Molecules Self-Assemble?

George D. Rose

May 2, 1997

The 66th Joseph Henry Lecture

Mars in Fact versus Fiction

Donna Lee Shirley

May 8, 1998

The 67th Joseph Henry Lecture

What Hubble Didn't Know About the Universe

Vera C. Rubin

May 7, 1999

The 68th Joseph Henry Lecture

Quantum Crystallography, a Tool for Enhancing Information from Crystallographic Data

Jerome Karle

May 7, 1999

The 68th Joseph Henry Lecture

Visualization of an Ion Channel by use of Crystallography

Isabella Karle

May 12, 2000

The 69th Joseph Henry Lecture

Global Warming: Hot Talk, Cold Science

S. Fred Singer

May 11, 2001

The 70th Joseph Henry Lecture

The Human Computer and the Birth of the Information Age

David A. Grier

Abstract | Transcript
May 17, 2002

The 71st Joseph Henry Lecture

The Cholesterol Myths

Uffe Ravnskov

May 16, 2003

The 72nd Joseph Henry Lecture

Biology and Humans in Space

Baruch Blumberg

May 28, 2004

The 73rd Joseph Henry Lecture

Oceans and Human Health

A Symbiotic Relationship between People and the Sea

Rita R. Colwell

May 13, 2005

The 74th Joseph Henry Lecture

Time, Einstein, and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe

William Phillips

May 12, 2006

The 75th Joseph Henry Lecture

Latest Scientific Results from the Mars Exploration Rovers

Jim Garvin

May 11, 2007

The 76th Joseph Henry Lecture

The Very First Light

The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe

John Mather

This year's Henry Lecture is sponsored by Millstein & Taylor, PC.

May 16, 2008

The 77th Joseph Henry Lecture

Arsenic in Ground Water

Aquatic Chemistry and Mitigation through a Sustainable Filtration Technology

Abul Hussam

This year's Henry Lecture is sponsored by Larry Millstein and Robin Taylor.

May 1, 2009

The 78th Joseph Henry Lecture

Our Microbial Partners and Their Roles in Health and Disease

Claire M. Fraser-Liggett

May 14, 2010

The 79th Joseph Henry Lecture

Cosmos and Culture

Life in the Universe and Its Implications for Humanity

Steven J. Dick

May 20, 2011

The 80th Joseph Henry Lecture

2020 Vision:

A Decadal View of New Worlds and New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Debra Elmegreen

Abstract | Video
May 25, 2012

The 81st Joseph Henry Lecture

Synthesizing Life

Lee Cronin

Sponsored by Millen, White, Zelano & Branigan, PC.

Abstract | Minutes | Video
May 10, 2013

The 82nd Joseph Henry Lecture

John P. Grotzinger

Curiosity's Robotic Exploration of Mars' Gale Crater

Sponsored by Millen, White, Zelano & Branigan, PC

Abstract | Minutes | Video
May 9, 2014

The 83rd Joseph Henry Lecture

Craig C. Mello

A Worm's Tale: Secrets of Evolution and Immortality

Abstract | Video
May 8, 2015

The 84th Joseph Henry Lecture

Pamela Silver

Synthetic Biology

Abstract | Minutes | Video
April 15, 2016

The 85th Joseph Henry Lecture

Alan Stern

The Exploration of Pluto

Abstract | Minutes | Video
May 12, 2017

The 86th Joseph Henry Lecture

Exoplanets and the Search for Life
An Exploration in Four Lectures


Mark Clampin
Deputy Director, Sciences & Exploration Directorate
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A Universe of Exoplanets - The Discovery of Habitable Worlds

Debra Fischer
Professor of Astronomy
Yale University

Exploring the TRAPPIST System  with Hubble and the JWST

Hannah Wakeford
NASA postdoctoral Fellow
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

"Are we alone?" - Turning Speculation into Science and Testable Hypotheses

Shawn Domagal Goldman
Research Space Scientist
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Finding Earth 2.0 - Extraordinary Tools to Expanding the Search Space

Aki Roberge
Research Astrophysicist
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Abstract | Video