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Eric Carlson - Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, NC, US

Eric Carlson Eric Carlson

Associate Professor of Physics | Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC, UNITED STATES

Carlson demands scientific explanations for the seemingly inexplicable.


Having researched particle physics for more than 25 years, Eric Carlson is an expert in understanding how the universe is put together at the most fundamental level.

Though his research on particle astrophysics, numerical general relativity and semi-classical gravity has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and gained national recognition, Carlson is also known for his skeptical views on a variety of supernatural and extraordinary claims, including numerology, ghosts, and supposed supernatural powers.

NBC Nightly News, USA Today, CNN, Huffington Post, and BBC Radio interviewed Carlson about 11/11/11 for his expertise on numerical patterns. Carlson also demands scientific explanations for the seemingly inexplicable whereas most would simply classify certain activities as “paranormal.” Along those lines, he has also widely debunked any notion that Friday the 13th is an unlucky date or that the Vernal Equinox offers any special powers.

In his study of the world’s tiniest particles, Carlson takes a patient – and skeptical – approach to seeing the big picture. Throughout most of his career, false alarms about the elusive Higgs boson, or so-called “God particle,” have dominated scientific headlines. Though not yet a definitive discovery, Carlson says identifying the long-sought lynchpin of how the universe is made would be on par with effectively proving The Big Bang Theory.

Areas of Expertise (12)

Particle Physics

Particle Astrophysics

Numerical General Relativity

Semi-Classical Gravity


Numerical Patterns


Neutrino Stars

Quantum Mechanics



The Scientific Method





Wake Forest physics professor Eric Carlson talks about the impact of the new Large Hadron Collider in his office in Olin Hall. loading image Eric Carlson working with a student at Wake Forest University. loading image



Education (3)

Harvard University: Ph.D., Physics

Harvard University: M.A., Physics

Michigan State University: B.S., Physics

Media Appearances (5)

Historic moon-landing remembered by county residents ahead of 50th anniversary

Winston-Salem Journal  


“Everyone said, ‘We’ve got to beat the Russians,’ but space travel was still risky,” Carlson said. “The solution for the Apollo missions was to launch at a good time and hope for some luck that they wouldn’t encounter a solar flare.”

While the Earth is always bombarded with radiation from the sun, the Earth’s magnetosphere acts as a shield, Carlson said. Traveling to the moon increases the risk for high radiation exposure.

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Superstition times 3: 2015 calendar has 3 Friday the 13ths

Chicago Tribune  


Eric Carlson never put much stock in Friday the 13th. In fact, the Wake Forest University professor once led a group called the Carolina Skeptics, who would gather every Friday the 13th and encourage people to do "unlucky" things, just to prove that the world wouldn't end as a result...

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On 12/13/14 one last chance to indulge in sequential date frenzy — this century, anyway

The Washington Post  


Things aren’t looking good from the numerology perspective, so how about we bring in a skeptic. Eric Carlson is a professor at Wake Forest University, where he researches particle physics. On 11/11/11, he became the expert voice of dissent in the fun-number-date craze...

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11/11/11 brings hopes of luck to couples, others across USA

USA Today  


Eric Carlson is a man of science. The physics professor at Wake Forest University says people are attracted to repetitive numbers because "our brains are just pattern-matching machines."

"If you happen to glance at the clock and it's 11:11, you will remember that," Carlson says. "But I don't think there is any mystical significance to it."...

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11/11/11 Weddings: Numerologist Says Its Not A Lucky Day (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post  


While the numbers game makes for a good story, Eric Carlson, a physics professor at Wake Forest University and an admitted numerology skeptic, has a number of reasons why 11/11/11 is not particular special, other than the fact that writing it out numerically might look neat...

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Articles (3)

SN 1987A gamma-ray limits on the conversion of pseudoscalars Physics Letters B

Pseudoscalar particles θ usually couple electromagnetically by an interaction of the form 1 4 gθF F, allowing them to convert to photons in the presence of magnetic fields. Notably, new low-mass pseudoscalars emitted from supernova (SN) 1987A would have been converted ...

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Nucleosynthesis versus the mirror universe Physics Letters B

A mirror universe consisting of particles and forces isomorphic to ordinary particles and forces would couple to our universe only through gravity. Hypothetical particles displaying both types of forces would forge an additional link between the two universes. Due to ...

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Terrestrially enhanced neutrino oscillations Physical Review D

The effect of Wolfenstein neutrino-oscillation enhancement on atmospheric neutrinos is considered. The effect of these neutrino oscillations on data from proton-decay experiments is discussed...

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