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Science Lecture Series Presents Nobel Prize Winner Dr. William D. Phillips

December 22, 2015
Otterbein University

The George W. and Mildred K. White Science Lecture Series at Otterbein University will present a free public lecture by Nobel Prize winner Dr. William D. Phillips at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, in the Battelle Fine Arts Center, 170 W. Park St. Phillips will discuss"Time, Einstein and the coolest stuff in the universe." This will be a lively, multimedia presentation, including experimental demonstrations and down-to-earth explanations about some of today’s most exciting science.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Einstein changed the way we think about time. Near the end of the 20th century, scientists learned how to cool a gas of atoms to temperatures billions of times lower than anything else in the universe. Now, in the 21st century, Einstein’s thinking and ultracold atoms are shaping one of the key scientific and technological wonders of contemporary life: atomic clocks, the best timekeepers ever made. Such super-accurate clocks are essential to industry, commerce, and science; they are the heart of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which guides cars, airplanes, and hikers to their destinations. Today, the best primary atomic clocks use ultracold atoms, achieve accuracies better than a second in 300 million years and are getting better all the time. Super-cold atoms, with temperatures that can be below a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, use, and allow tests of, some of Einstein’s strangest predictions. 

Phillips earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Juniata College and doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After two years as a Chaim Weizmann postdoctoral fellow at MIT, he joined the staff of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 1978. He is currently a NIST fellow, the leader of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group in the Quantum Measurement Division of NIST’s Physical Measurement Laboratory and a distinguished university professor at the University of Maryland. He is a fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a cooperative research organization of NIST and the University of Maryland that is devoted to the study of quantum coherent phenomena. At the JQI he is the co-director of a National Science Foundation-funded Physics Frontier Center focusing on quantum phenomena that span different subfields of physics. Phillips’s research group studies the physics of ultracold atomic gases.  In 1997, Phillips shared the Nobel Prize in Physics “for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.”

The George W. and Mildred K. White Science Lecture Series at Otterbein University was established in 1987. The George W. and Mildred K. White Science Seminar Fund sponsors the annual scientific seminars. Through these seminars, national leaders in science and technology share their insights about the future of scientific endeavor. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert Grubbs, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry; Dr. Tina Henkin, 2006 winner of the National Academies of Science Pfizer Prize; Dr. Steven Pinker, Harvard professor and renowned experimental psychologist; Dr. Andrea Ghez, an international expert in observational astrophysics; Dr. Sean B. Carroll, a leading voice of evolutionary science in the U.S.; and animal behaviorist Dr. Steve Nowicki.  For more information, visit www.otterbein.edu/sciencelectureseries.

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