Past Lectures

First Robert D. Maurer Lecture Delivered


The first Robert D. Maurer Lecture was delivered by Dr. Sheila Tobias on Thursday, December 1, 1994 in Giffels Auditorium. She spoke on "Revitalizing Undergraduate Science: Why Some Things Work and Most Don't." Dr. Tobias is a distinguished researcher in the area of science and mathematics education. During her visit here she led discussions with groups of faculty and graduate assistants in several science departments. Her public talk was followed by a Physics Colloquium entitled "Moving the Mountain, How to Get the Physics Community to Change" on December 2. 

Dr. Sheila Tobias

A student of history and literature at Harvard, Tobias graduated magna cum laude and earned a doctorate in European history from Columbia. She is the author of 150 articles and seven books on the subject of science and mathematics education, including "Overcoming Math Anxiety," "Succeed with Math: Every Student's Guide to Conquering Math Anxiety," and "They're Not Dumb, They're Different: Stalking the Second Tier." Tobias has spent two decades working to reform science education in America. In April the American Physical Society recognized her research by making Tobias an honorary member. Tobias is a consultant to the Research Corporation and the H. Dudley Wright Foundation for the Advancement of Science. She has served as Associate Provost at Wesleyan University and lectured in Eastern Europe as an American Specialist on feminism in the U.S. Tobias is also the author of Women, Militarism and War and in her lectures often addresses the status of women and minorities in science. Sheila Tobias attracts large crowds wherever she goes with her message: women are as capable as men in science, poor scores in mathematics do not reflect a failure of intellect in students, but rather a failure of nerve, and it's simply untrue that people are either good in science or in the language arts, but never in both.

Her work has progressed on three fronts: Empowering college-age students to pursue mathematics by demonstrating through interventions at the college level that theirs is not "a failure of intellect," but a failure of nerve; examining at close range what makes science and mathematics "hard" for otherwise able students; and revealing that it is the "disciplinary cultures" not the students' abilities that are the culprit.

Dr. Tobias began her lecture by observing that after years of efforts to reform science education we have not made much progress. She sketched the past efforts at reform and obstacles that continue to block the transformation of science education. Tobias noted that most efforts at reform have been centered around changes in curriculum, computer assisted technology and pedagogy. What has been absent from these attempted reforms is changes in ideology. Tobias said that a lot of science teachers see their students in an "us" and "them" fashion. The "us" group of students is perceived as younger versions of the teacher. They are seen as eager and attentive; they ask good questions. The other group, the larger portion of the class, is "everyone else." They are seen as slower to learn and reluctant to do the required work. Tobias takes exception to this narrow perception of science students. She believes there are five student categories ranging from the first tier of "us" students to the fifth tier of "unlikelies." The "unlikelies" are the ones that she said "no amount of beefing up their skills, changes in curriculum, nothing will make them interested in science."

Tobias continued with the second tier of students, who, she said, apply themselves and are good learners but find science not relevant and "unnecessarily tension-producing"; next are the utilitarians, who make up the majority and are mainly interested in the use of science in their everyday life and work experiences; these are followed by the underprepared students, who take remedial science classes, but never proceed to take more advanced courses. Tobias stressed that it is important for teachers to accurately perceive who they are teaching in order to better teach students. This inability to differentiate student tiers results in terrible loss of math and science students in early years.

Tobias believes that the elitism fostered by the "us" and "them" perception, the attitude that only the very best can do science and it requires single-minded devotion, is a leading cause of the resistance to reforming the ideology of science education. Another contributing factor is the idea that one is predestined for science, and one's ability will show up early if at all. Tobias thinks this concept is particularly detrimental to women, who might be seen as abnormal if early science interests are expressed. Tobias said that periods of intense productivity in science come at varying stages for women and nonstandard males.

She continued that, in addition to the bias about who can learn science, there is resistance to reform on part of the faculty due to concerns such as a loss of control, uncovered material and change, simply because it is new. More staff may become necessary but may not be economically feasible. Tobias said students also resist science education reform. The current teaching methods are predictable; students know the rules, grading systems and teacher expectations. Reform encourages more open-ended questions on the tests, more student participation and a less predictable teaching style. Although students, faculty and the current basic ideology is not conducive to change, Tobias believes the challenge can be met. She said a new paradigm must replace the old ideology quoting the following passage from Francis Bacon, "The scientific method allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things."

Dr. Tobias's visit to the University of Arkansas was made possible by the efforts of Prof. Gay Stewart who is the newest member of physics faculty working in the area of Physics Education.*

Supernova Expert Delivers The Second Maurer Lecture


Professor J. Craig Wheeler, a leading supernova expert, delivered the second Maurer Lecture in Physics on Thursday, February 15 in Giffels Auditorium. The Maurer Lecture Series was established to honor Dr. Robert D. Maurer's contributions to physics. Dr. Maurer who is an alumnus of the Department is the co-inventor of the first telecommunication grade optical fiber.

Professor Wheeler's public lecture, entitled "Breaking the Solitude: Explosions in the Night Sky," was concerned with supernovae explosions. Supernovae are relatively uncommon astronomical events. Supernovae go off in galaxies like ours about once every 25 years. Most of them cannot be seen because they are hidden by the dust and the disk of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Occasionally though these explosions can be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye. The Crab Nebula is the remnant of one such supernova explosion in the Milky Way galaxy which was first observed on Earth in 1054. It was reportedly clearly visible in the daytime for more than two weeks. The last supernova, spotted in 1986, took place in the Large Magellanic Clouds, the neighboring galaxy to the Milky Way.

Wheeler traced the life history of a star, describing various stages in its evolution and its destiny. Sufficiently massive stars end up as supernovae. Supernovae are enormous explosive events that represent not only the catastrophic deaths of stars but also the production of new forms of matter. Nearly all the elements required to make life possible are formed in these stellar cauldrons. Carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen are the most precious of these elements. Some of the supernovae explosions also produce fantastic new forms of matter such as neutron stars and black holes. Wheeler's lecture explored the story of some special supernovae and the impact of supernovae in our interconnected universe.

Wheeler's second talk, delivered the next day on February 16 in the Physics Department, was entitled "Black Hole X-ray Novae." It was aimed at a technical audience. Wheeler said that new black hole candidates have been discovered at the rate of about one per year for the last half-dozen years. Unlike the famous Cygnus X-1, these systems do not represent black holes orbiting massive stars and do not shine steadily. Rather, they are black holes orbiting very small mass stars. They lie dormant for decades before emitting a burst of radiation throughout the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to gamma rays. Wheeler said that whereas there may be only one Cygnus X-1 in our whole galaxy, there are probably a thousand of these black hole novae, making them the most common form of binary black holes. Two of them have recently displayed apparent "superluminal expansion" as radio sources, making the analogy to quasars very close.

Professor Wheeler is the Samuel T. and Fern Yanagisawa Regents Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. He has published more than 175 scientific papers and a novel, and has edited two books. A popular science lecturer, Wheeler has received many awards for his teaching. Wheeler received his B.S. from MIT and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. Before joining the University of Texas he held appointments at Caltech and Harvard. He was a visiting fellow at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and a Fulbright Fellowship in Italy. He has served on a number of advisory committees, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Warner-Pierce Prize Committee, the Tinsley Prize Committee of the American Astronomical Society, and the organizing committee of the International Astronomical Union Commission on Stellar Constitution.*

Life on Mars?


The 1997 Maurer Lecture was delivered by Professor Richard N. Zare, Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University, on April 24 in Giffels Auditorium to a standing-room-only crowd.

In his public talk entitled "Life on Mars?," Professor Zare discussed the evidence that a team of scientists at Stanford University and at the NASA John Space Center led by Professor David McKay has uncovered that strongly suggests primitive life may have existed on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago. Zare began his talk by noting that our conception of life is strongly influenced by what we find on Earth. We know that life needs water. Mars does not have water now but photographs of Martian surface showing effluvial action, polar ice caps and volcanoes clearly point to a once warm and wet planet. We also know that Mars does not have an atmosphere because its gravity is too weak to hold gaseous atoms too long. He said that we have learned a great deal more about Mars from optical astronomy and from the two Viking Lander Missions of 1976. For example, we know such isotopic abundances as the hydrogen to deuterium ratio, and that it is different from that found on Earth. The Viking Lander Missions also tested Martian surface soil for signs of life. No organics were found. This put a damper on the search for life on Mars.

In 1984 scientists found a meteorite in Antarctica. This meteorite, labeled ALH840001, is about the size of a loaf of bread. Its isotopic composition, determined by laser mass spectrometry, clearly point to a Martian origin of this meteorite. A radioactivity analysis shows that the meteorite is more than 3.6 billion years old. Examination of this meteorite under an electron microscope reveals an unusual pattern of organic molecules and several mineral samples that are known products of primitive microscopic organisms on earth such as nanobacteria. Zare said that nanobacteria are the simplest kind of life. He said that the concentration of these substances was sparse on the meteorite surface but much higher in the interior suggesting that the compounds were not the result of terrestrial contamination. He said that only a few years ago no one would have imagined this kind of life possible but recent discoveries in paleo-biology of Earth bacteria that feed on sulfur rather than on sunlight and chlorophyll have changed our conception of life.

Professor Zare said that the evidence for life was not based on any one finding but on a combination of things. These include the discovery of the first organic molecule (carbonates) of Martian origin, mineral features characteristic of biological activity and possible microscopic fossils of primitive bacteria-like organisms inside the same meteorite. All of these findings strongly suggest primitive life on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago. He said that the negative finding of the Viking Mission did not rule out existence of life on Mars because even on earth every rock would not exhibit life forms. He added that his speculation was that there was lots of life on Mars because if life was really rare on Mars the probability that a piece of Mars containing life would hit earth would be indeed small.

Professor Zare emphasized, however, that he maintained a certain air of skepticism. He said that these conclusions are the most reasonable and simplest explanation of the evidence, but not proof. Research is a process and not an end result. A consensus that life does exist on Mars would require more experiments and solid findings such as colonies of organisms, or signs of cell division showing the life cycle of such organisms. It is good to question, that is what the scientific method is all about.

Professor Zare is renowned for his research in laser chemistry. By experimental and theoretical studies he has made seminal contributions to our understanding of molecular collision processes and contributed significantly to solving a variety of problems in chemical analysis. He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he received his BA in physics and chemistry, and his Ph.D. in chemical physics in 1964. After holding faculty positions at MIT and the University of Colorado, he joined Columbia University in 1969 where he became Higgins Professor of Natural Science. In 1977 he moved to Stanford.

Professor Zare is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous national and international awards and honors. These include the National Medal of Science and the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences, the Earle K. Plyler and the Langmuir Prizes of the American Physical Society and the Peter Debye Award of the American Chemical Society.

Surendra Singh

Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Lectures on Lasers


Lasers have come a long way since the first ruby crystal in the 1960s, Nobel prize-winning physicist Nicolaas Bloembergen told a University of Arkansas audience Thursday night, translating into a $20 billion market today. "In the 1960's, it was considered a solution looking for a problem," Bloembergen said of the first laser development. "Now, it's different. Now there are many problems solved by lasers."

Bloembergen, professor emeritus at Harvard, pioneered work on nuclear magnetic resonance with Edward Purcell and Robert Pound, as well as development of energy transfer schemes. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1981 for his work on nonlinear spectroscopy and optics. Bloembergen spoke to a full house in Giffels Auditorium in Old Main. His presentation, "Lasers: Physics Impacting Your Life" was part of the Robert D. Maurer Lecture Series, named after the physics department alumnus and inventor of the first telecommunications-grade optical fiber. The lecture was sponsored by the physics department.

The word "laser," Bloembergen explained, is an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation." Because of the nature of the light amplification process, he said, light rays go in the same direction at the same frequency, and a coherent phenomenon occurs. Lasers have some common characteristics, including a high chromaticity (of color and wavelength), directionality (relating to direction in space), and high intensity and power. With the directional quality of lasers, he noted, distances such as from the Earth to the moon can be measured to within one inch of accuracy. On a large scale, they can be used to see changes in distance from one point on the Earth to another, detecting possible shifts in tectonic plates. On a smaller scale, they can be used to align underground or underwater pipelines and tunnels, such as the tunnel under San Francisco Bay.

The directionality of lasers also enables laser communication. Lasers can focus onto an area of an optical fiber of one micrometer squared, or as Bloembergen explained, "one thousandth of a cross-section of a human hair, if you can imagine that," making them practical in large cities where there is no more room to lay copper cables for communication. "One optical fiber can carry 400,000 simultaneous telephone conversations," he noted, "so it can do more than 100,000 copper wires."

There are now more than a dozen optical fibers from the East coast to Europe, with a similar number extending across the Pacific. Lasers are also important in the development of optical discs for mass storage requirements, Bloembergen said, and in the automotive industry for heat treatment of metal cylinders in combustion engines, as well as laser beam welding systems.

Lasers can also cut materials like paper, textiles, and diamonds, and one of their most interesting uses, he said, is in medicine. They have many uses in surgery, such as to repair detached retinas or remove port wine stains, and their use is cleaner, with less blood loss, and more precision than standard surgical instruments.

Bloembergen sees laser use increasing in scientific applications, and said there is an "enormous push" now for high-powered, semiconductor lasers. Bloembergen has authored two monographs, "Nuclear Magnetic Relaxation" and "Nonlinear Optics," and published more than 300 papers in scientific journals. He was president of the American Physical Society, and has won a number of national and international awards, including the Lorentz Medal of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Medal of Science. A reception followed his presentation.

By Dana Gieringer, The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Reprinted with permission

William Phillips on "Time, Einstein, and the Coldest Stuff in the Universe"


Nobel Prize-winning physicist William D. Phillips delivered this year's Maurer Lecture to a capacity crowd on March 4 in Giffels Auditorium. Dr. Robert Maurer and Mrs. Barbara Maurer were in attendance. Dr. Maurer received the Fulbright College's Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Physics. Bernard Madison, Dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, presented the certificate and inducted him into the College's Alumni Academy.

In his public talk, Dr. Phillip discussed atomic clocks, the most accurate timepieces ever made. Accurate clocks are essential for synchronization of high speed communication, the Global Positioning System that guides aircraft, boats and backpackers, and other features of modern life. The limitations of atomic clocks come from the thermal motion of the atoms. Hot atoms move fast and suffer from time shifts as predicted by Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Contrary to intuition, things can be cooled by shining laser light on them. With laser cooling, gases can be cooled to less than one millionth of a degree above Absolute Zero. The slow-moving atoms in such a gas allow one to make even more accurate clocks, perhaps accurate to within a few billionths of a second per year. Laser cooling also makes possible the recent observation of Einstein's long-standing prediction of Bose-Einstein condensation, hailed as one of the most important recent scientific developments.

The following day, Dr. Phillips delivered a Physics Department Colloquium entitled "Atom optics with Bose condensates." This dealt with the quantum wave aspects of atoms. Because of the wave nature of atoms, many of the phenomena familiar in "photon" optics can also be observed in "atom" optics, including diffraction, Bragg scattering, and interferometery. With the experimental achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation, scientists now have coherent atom sources for atom optics analogous to laser sources for photon optics. He described a number of matter-wave optics experiments that have been performed by his group using Bose condensates, including the first demonstration of non-linear atom optics: four-wave mixing of deBroglie waves.

Phillips joined the staff of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1978. He is leader of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group in the Atomic Physics Division of NIST's physics lab, and is Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the APS, the Optical Society of America, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He received the Department of Commerce's Gold Medal (1993), the Franklin Institute's Michelson Medal (1996), and the APS Schawlow Prize (1998). He shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics "for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with lasers."

Surendra Singh

Lawrence Krauss
Ambrose Swasey Professor
Case Western Reserve University


Public Lecture

The Physics of Star Trek

Donald W. Reynolds Center 
(Sam Walton School of Business)

7:30 PM Thursday, March 2, 2000

Prof. Lawrence KraussBeginning with a Bang, internationally known physicist and the author of The Physics of Star Trek, Lawrence Krauss will guide you on a warp speed journey through the Star Trek universe. Through the use of slides, props and video clips the lecture will offer a glimpse of the fascinating world of modern physics with topics ranging from time travel to warp speed, from the Big Bang to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. For Trekkers and non-Trekkers alike, this charming and accessible lecture will add a whole new dimension to their view of the Star Trek universe, and your appreciation of the universe in which we actually live.


Sponsored by the Physics Department and the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium

Dr. Philip Morrison
Institute Professor Emeritus
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


 

Public Lecture

Planets Galore among the Stars: Fact and Forecast

Giffels Auditorium, Old Main 

7:45 PM Thursday, March 29, 2001

Dr. Philip MorrisonDr. Morrison will discuss the impact of recent discoveries of extra-solar planetary systems. We knew the system of our sun and its orbiting planets about as well as anything in the heavens. But the Solar System seemed unique until 1995! Fifty-some new ones are now known; they challenge our provincial ideas, and suggest a marvelous unfolding in the decades ahead. Morrison is a seasoned lecturer and author with vast experience communicating the excitement of science to the general public.

Philip Morrison is Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT. Together with his wife Phylis, he has written monthly book reports and columns for Scientific American since 1964.

Morrison was a student of J. Robert Oppenheimer at UC Berkeley, receiving his Ph. D. in theoretical physics in 1940. During World War II he worked on the Manhattan Project (atomic bomb) at Chicago and Los Alamos. After the war he was on the physics faculties at San Francisco State, U. of Illinois, Cornell University, and finally MIT. In addition to his work in nuclear physics and astrophysics, Morrison has been active in issues of nuclear weapons and nuclear war.

A major interest has been in promoting public understanding of science, both here and abroad. He has made several episodes for the TV series NOVA and did a mini-series called "Ring of Truth" for PBS. He is author of several books, the best known being "Powers of Ten" (also available as a video) made with the Office of Charles and Ray Eames.

For more information contact: Surendra Singh, Professor & Chair or Shari Witherspoon, Administrative Assistant Tel: 575-2506


Sponsored by the Physics Department and the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium

Dr. Steven Chu
Professor of Physics, Stanford University
1997 Nobel Prize in Physics


Public Lecture

Laser cooling and trapping: from atomic clocks to watching biomolecules move, one molecule at a time

Giffels Auditorium, Old Main 

7:30-8:30 pm, Thursday, March 28, 2002

Dr. Steven ChuProfessor Chu, a Nobel Laureate in physics, will review how atoms can be cooled with lasers to temperatures of 200 billionths of a degree above absolute zero. Once chilled to these temperatures, atoms can be held and manipulated with light. Some of the applications of this new technology include the construction of ultra-precise atomic clocks, atom interferometers, and the achievement of Bose Condensation. Finally, he will show how this work has led us to study the behavior of individual bio-molecules and bio-molecular systems in real time.

The lecture is part of the annual Maurer Lecture Series. It is free and open to the public. The purpose of the lecture is to bring distinguished scientists and educators to the campus and to the general public to increase awareness of recent scientific advances. The public lecture will be followed by a colloquium on Friday, March 29, 4:00-5:00 pm in Physics 133. The colloquium topic will be "Biology at the single molecule level."

Maurer lectures have been organized every year since 1995. Past lectures have included N. Bloembergen, William Phillips (both Nobel Laureates), Richard Zare, Lawrence Krauss (author, astrophysicist), and Phillip Morrison, among others. These lectures were co-sponsored by ASGC.

For more information contact Surendra Singh, Professor & Chair or Ruby Lord, Administrative Secretary at 575-2506


Sponsored by the Physics Department and the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium

Dr. Leon Lederman
Fermi National Accelerator Facility
1988 Nobel Prize in Physics


Public Lecture

Status Report on Project:
"How Does the Universe Work?"

Giffels Auditorium, Old Main 

7:30, Thursday, March 13, 2003
Followed by a reception

The science of particle physics explores the "inner space" of atoms, nuclei, quarks and neutrinos. The science of astrophysics explores the "outer space" of galaxies, quasars, black holes and dark energy. An amalgam of both subjects is allied to answer the single question: How Does the Universe Work?

The lecture is part of the annual Maurer Lecture Series. It is free and open to the public. The purpose of the lecture is to bring distinguished scienetists and educators to the campus and to the general public to increase awareness of recent scientific advances. The public lecture will be followed by a colloquium on Friday, March 14, 4:00-5:00 pm in Physics 133.

Maurer lectures have been organized every year since 1995. Past lectures have included N. Bloembergen, William Phillips (both Nobel Laureates), Richard Zare, Lawrence Krauss (author, astrophysicist), and Phillip Morrison, among others. These lectures were co-sponsored by ASGC.

For more information contact the Physics Department at (479) 575-2506

Download the official flier (PDF, 300K)


Sponsored by the University of Arkansas Physics Department,
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences,
and the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium

Dr. Michael S. Turner
Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Rauner Distinguished Service Professor and former Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago


Public Lecture

The Dark Side of the Universe: Beyond Stars and the Starstuff We Are Made Of

Giffels Auditorium, Old Main 
7:30-8:30 pm, Thursday, April 1, 2004

Dr. Michael TurnerThe sky is filled with hundreds of billion galaxies, all lit up by their stars. But stars account for less than one percent of the material in the Universe, and galaxies are held together by a new form of matter -- dark matter -- that accounts for 1/3 of the "stuff" in the Universe. The other 2/3 exists as in an even more mysterious form -- dark energy -- and is causing the expansion of the Universe to speed up, rather than slow down.

The lecture is part of the annual Maurer Lecture Series. It is free and open to the public. The purpose of the lecture is to bring distinguished scientists and educators to the campus and to the general public to increase awareness of recent scientific advances. The public lecture will be followed by a colloquium on Friday, April 2, 4:00-5:00 pm in Physics 133. The colloquium topic will be "Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe: New Physics or the New Aether".

Maurer lectures have been organized every year since 1995. Past lectures have included N. Bloembergen, William Phillips, Steven Chu, and Leon Lederman (all Nobel Laureates), Richard Zare, Lawrence Krauss (author, astrophysicist), and Phillip Morrison, among others. These lectures were co-sponsored by ASGC.

For more information contact the Physics Department at (479) 575-2506


Sponsored by the Physics Department and the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium

Albert Einstein: The Man Behind the Myths


Public Lecture

Dr. John Stachel
Emeritus Professor of Physics, Boston University
Director of the Center for Einstein Studies

Albert Einstein: The Man Behind the Myths

Poultry Science Auditorium, Center of Excellence for Poultry Science 
7:30-8:30 pm, Thursday, April 7, 2005

The lecture will focus on some common misconceptions about Albert Einstein, his scientific contributions and how his views on social, political and educational issues are still relevant today. This year marks the centennial of the writing of Einstein's five landmark papers of 1905, on the quantum radiation theory of light, the special theory of relativity, and the use of statistical mechanics to prove the existence of atoms.

Dr. Stachel was the founding editor and director of the Einstein Papers Project, which is engaged in publishing The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. He has written the definitive book on Einstein's work of 1905, the centenary of which is this year. The book is called Einstein's Miraculous Year: Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics (Princeton University Press, 1998). He has written two of the most important books on Einstein's life and science, Einstein from 'B' to 'Z' and Einstein's Miraculous Year: Five Papers that Changed the Face of Physics.

The Maurer Lecture Series, sponsored by the Department of Physics in Fulbright College, is named for alumnus Dr. Robert D. Maurer, co-inventor of the first telecommunications-grade optical fiber and winner of the National Medal of Technology.

The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Maurer lectures have been organized every year since 1995. Past lectures have included N. Bloembergen, William Phillips (both Nobel Laureates), Richard Zare, Lawrence Krauss (author, astrophysicist), and Phillip Morrison, Steven Chu, and Leon Lederman, among others. These lectures were co-sponsored by ASGC.

On Friday, April 8, Dr. Stachel will offer a physics colloquium entitled, "1905: Einstein's Miraculous Year" at 3:30 p.m. in Giffels Auditorium. A reception at 3:00 p.m. will precede the colloquium. More information on the colloquium can be found on the Physics Department Web Site.

For more information contact Karen Love, Administrative Secretary, Department of Physics, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, 226 Physics Building, (479) 575-5836, kmlove@uark.edu


Sponsored by the Physics Department.

The Poultry Science Auditorium is room 211 in the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science
the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science is on the corner of Razorback Road and Maple
Parking is available in the Stadium parking lot, across Maple from the Center

Bose-Einstein Condensate: Quantum Weirdness at the Lowest Temperature in the Universe


Public Lecture

Dr. Carl Wieman
Nobel Laureate in Physics 2001
Distinguished Professor in Physics
University of Colorado

Bose-Einstein Condensate: Quantum Weirdness at the Lowest Temperature in the Universe

The Donald W. Reynolds Center 
7:30-8:30 pm, Thursday, March 9, 2006

Dr. Carl WiemanProfessor Wieman will discuss how atoms can be cooled with lasers to temperatures of 100 billionths of a degree above absolute zero. Once chilled, the atoms can be held and manipulated with light. This new technology has made possible the construction of ultra-precise atomic clocks, atom interferometers, and the achievement of "Bose Einstein condensate or BEC." This is a new state of matter in which a large number of atoms lose their individual identities and behave as a single quantum entity, the "superatom" and exhibit the nonintuitive quantum behavior normally important only at much tinier scales. The study and use of the curious properties of BEC has now become an important subfield of physics.

The Maurer Lecture Series, sponsored by the Department of Physics in Fulbright College, is named for alumnus Dr. Robert D. Maurer, co-inventor of the first telecommunications-grade optical fiber and winner of the National Medal of Technology.

The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Maurer lectures have been organized every year since 1995. Past lectures have included N. Bloembergen, William Phillips (both Nobel Laureates), Richard Zare, Lawrence Krauss (author, astrophysicist), and Phillip Morrison, Steven Chu, and Leon Lederman, among others. These lectures were co-sponsored by ASGC.

On Friday, March 10, Dr. Wieman will offer a physics colloquium entitled, "Using the Tools of Science to Teach Science" at 4:00 p.m. in the Paul Sharrah Lecture Hall (Physics 133). A reception at 3:30 p.m. will precede the colloquium. More information on the colloquium can be found on the Physics Department Web Site.


Sponsored by the Physics Department.

Outdoing Maxwell's Demon: Taming Molecular Wildness


Maurer Lecture 
Friday, April 6, 2007 4:00 PM 
Donald W. Reynolds Center
(Sam Walton School of Business) 

Dudley R. Herschbach
Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (1986)

Outdoing Maxwell's Demon: Taming Molecular Wildness
A Tele-Lecture

Dudley HerschbachNobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach received his Ph.D. in chemical physics from Harvard in 1958. He was a Chemistry Faculty at the University of California, Berkeley (1959-1963), before returning to Harvard (1963), where he has been Baird Professor of Science since 1976. He won the Nobel Prize for using molecular beams to probe the dynamics of chemical reactions in single collisions, an approach that had long been considered impossible. His research is devoted to methods for orienting molecules for studies of collisions, slowing and trapping of cold molecules to examine chemistry when molecules interact as waves rather than particles, and a dimensional scaling approach to many-particle interactions in electronic structure and Bose-Einstein condensates. He is passionate about pre-college science education as well and is engaged in several efforts to improve K-12 science education and public understanding of science.


Sponsored by the Department of Physics and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

New forms of quantum matter near absolute zero temperature


Maurer Lecture
Thursday, April 3, 2008 7:00 PM
Giffels Auditorium 

Wolfgang Ketterle
John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics, MIT
Director, MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms
Nobel Prize in Physics, 2001

New forms of quantum matter near absolute zero temperature

Why do physicists freeze matter to extremely low temperatures? Why is it worthwhile to cool to temperatures which are more than a million times lower than that of interstellar space? This lecture will discuss new forms of matter, which only exist at extremely low temperatures. Low temperatures open a new door to the quantum world where particles behave as waves and "march in lockstep". In 1925, Einstein predicted such a new form of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate, but it was realized only in 1995 in laboratories at Boulder and at MIT. More recently, Bose-Einstein condensates of molecules and fermion pairs have been created and may show behavior similar to electrons in superconducting materials. A new form of high-temperature superfluidity has been discovered. In the future, we hope to use ultracold gases to create designer matter, i.e. to realize new forms of matter in the laboratory which have been discussed as model systems for many-body phenomena, but have not been observed in nature.

Binary Pulsars and Relativistic Gravity


Maurer Lecture 
Thursday, April 2, 2009 7:00 PM 
Reynolds Auditorium

Joseph Taylor
James S. McDonnell Distinguished Professor of Physics, Emeritus
Princeton University
Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1993

Binary Pulsars and Relativistic Gravity

Joseph TaylorPulsars are neutron stars--the extremely dense, strongly magnetized, rapidly spinning remnants of supernova explosions. They also appear to be nature's most precise clocks. Discovery of the first orbiting pulsar opened a new subfield of  astrophysics in which the relativistic nature of gravity is tested through precise comparisons of "pulsar time" with atomic time here on Earth. Among other results, the experiments have demonstrated the existence of gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein's theory of gravity.

Dr. Taylor's research is in radio astronomy, especially the study of pulsars and their applications to experimental gravitation. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.  He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the Einstein Prize of the Albert Einstein Society, Bern, the Wolf Prize in Physics, and the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Reception to follow at 8:00 PM

Parking in Harmon Deck

Facing the Growing Threat of Bioterrorism


Maurer Lecture 
Thursday, March 18, 2010 7:30 PM 
Giffels Auditorium

Steven M. Block
S.W. Ascherman Professor of Statistics
Department of Biology Stanford University

Facing the Growing Threat of Bioterrorism

Steven BlockThe extraordinary pace of modern biotechnology makes it necessary to contemplate a whole new generation of biological weapons, including those based on genetically-engineered pathogens. At the same time, our nation -- along with the world at large -- struggles to cope with ongoing threats posed by the current generation of biological weapons and also by naturally-occurring infectious diseases, which are by no means under control. Much of the thinking behind our effort to limit biological weaponry has been influenced by a legacy of nonproliferation approaches developed during the past half-century to limit the spread and use of nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction differ in fundamental ways, and so, therefore, do the most effective strategies to counter these. Ironically, recent legislative efforts to regulate pathogens seem to be doing more to damage our nation's ability to muster nimble defenses against bioweaponry than to inhibit the access of a potential adversary to these same weapons. Inevitably, the key to countering threats posed by bioweapons, as well as emerging infectious diseases, will come from the development of a powerful national health infrastructure, and not, for example, from an ability to preclude or preempt most future attacks. This talk will contemplate the future of bioweapons and the most effective strategies for combating these. There's much work to be done, but also grounds for optimism.


Reception After the Lecture
Parking in Harmon Parking Deck will be Validated
Sponsored by Department of Physics
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
2010 Maurer Lecture Poster

Testing Einstein's Assumptions about Space, Time and the Speed of Light


Maurer Lecture 
Thursday, March 17, 2011 7:30 PM 
Giffels Auditorium

John L. Hall
Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2005
JILA, University of Colorado and NIST

John HallDr. John L. Hall earned his PhD in 1961 at Carnegie Tech (Pittsburgh PA). Hall pioneered the use of stabilized lasers to accomplish measurements of unprecedented accuracy and intrinsic physical interest. He introduced the methane/HeNe stabilized laser and, with his NBS team, used it to measure accurately the speed of light. In collaboration with other National Metrology Institutes, the SI Meter was re-defined in 1983. His group has stabilized various tunable lasers (even diode lasers) to sub-Hz linewidths. His group pioneered the “Optical Comb” techniques which allow simple and direct measurement of optical frequencies. For these works he was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Prof. Hänsch of Munich and Prof. Glauber of Harvard. Winner of numerous other awards, Dr. Hall has more than 235 refereed publications, and holds 11 US patents.

Testing Einstein's Assumptions about Space, Time and the Speed of Light

Even though this is the 50th year of the laser, progress in its control and application in precision measurements is still accelerating. The Optical Frequency Comb technology exploded in 1999-2000 from the synthesis of advances in independent fields of Laser Stabilization, UltraFast Lasers, and NonLinear Optical Fibers, enabling a thousand-fold advance in optical frequency measurement, and searches (in the 16th digit) for time-variation of physical "constants.” Newer inventions are making possible stable optical frequencies defined by length and the speed of light, as compared with those based on the resonant frequency of atoms. These two represent the prototypes of “clocks,” whose properties were postulated by Einstein in 1905 in formulating the theory of Special Relativity. Einstein’s assumptions can now be tested to the 18th decimal in a proposed Space-based experiment being planned by the Space-Time Asymmetry Research collaboration (STAR).

2011 Maurer Lecture Poster

Sponsor: Surendra Singh
Contact: Surendra Singh/Donna Johns

The Warped Side of our Universe: From the Big Bang to Black Holes and Gravitational Waves


Maurer Lecture
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 7:00 PM
Giffels Auditorium

Kip S. Thorne
The Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA

The Warped Side of our Universe: From the Big Bang to Black Holes and Gravitational Waves

There is a Warped Side to our Universe: objects and phenomena that are made from warped space and warped time, instead of from matter. Three examples are black holes, the big-bang in which our Universe was born, and ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves.  

Numerical simulations using supercomputers are making surprising predictions about the Warped Side - for example, that when two black holes collide, they create six vortexes of twisting space attached to the merged black hole, and as these vortexes slosh and whirl, they emit gravitational waves.  LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)  and its international partners, will soon open the gravitational-wave window onto our Universe, enabling humans for the first time to explore its Warped Side.

Contact: Vicki Martin

19th Annual Robert D. Maurer Distinguished Lecture
Fun with Ultracold Atoms


Maurer Lecture
Thursday, April 18, 2013 7:30 PM
Hillside Auditorium HILL 202

Dr. Deborah Jin
NIST Fellow
JILA Fellow
Adjoint Professor of Physics
University of Colorado

Fun with Ultracold Atoms

Experiments with ultracold gases are among the coldest in the world.  Physicist Deborah Jin will discuss experiments exploring quantum behavior in a gas of atoms cooled to temperatures near absolute zero.  The talk will touch upon topics such as temperature, quantum mechanics, and superconductivity.

20th Annual Robert D. Maurer Distinguished Lecture
50 Years of Lasers: Meeting Challenges of the 21st Century


Maurer Lecture
Thursday, April 17, 2014 7:30 PM
Ozark Hall Auditorium

Steven M. Block
S.W. Ascherman Professor of Statistics
Department of Biology Stanford University

50 Years of Lasers: Meeting Challenges of the 21st Century

2014 Event Flier and Information

21st Annual Robert D. Maurer Distinguished Lecture
Origin of Life: From Geophysics to Biology


Maurer Lecture 
Thursday, April 2, 2015 7:30 PM 
Hillside Auditorium 

Albert J. Libchaber
Detlev W. Bronk Professor
Laboratory of Experimental Condensed Matter Physics
The Rockefeller University

Origin of Life: From Geophysics to Biology

One of the deepest and most controversial questions of our time is
that of the origin of life. In this lecture a hypothesis is presented, according to which the temperature gradients existing deep in the earth (which leads to plate tectonics and the formation of undersea thermal vents), also led to the origin and evolution of life around those vents. Movies and data will be shown of experiments in which various stages of this scenario are presented: how thermal gradients led to plate tectonics, to DNA possible amplification in the thermal vents, and to huge increase of molecular concentration in the early soup. In this scenario the Carnot cycle, at the origin of the first industrial revolution, might have also be relevant at the origin of life.

Contact: Mary Howard

Watching the Earth Breathe Measuring Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide With NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2


 

Maurer Lecture
Thursday, April 7, 2016 7:30 PM
Giffels Auditorium

Dr. David Crisp
Senior Research Scientist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Watching the Earth Breathe Measuring Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide With NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2

Dr. David Crisp is an atmospheric physicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Since receiving his Ph.D. from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program at Princeton University in 1984, his research has focused primarily on the development of instruments and numerical models for analyzing light reflected, emitted, and scattered by atmospheres and surfaces of Venus, Earth, Mars, and more recently, a few exoplanets. He has served on the science teams of several missions including the Soviet/French/US VEGA Balloon mission, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field/Planetary Camera-2, and Mars Pathfinder missions, and the European Space Agency's Venus Express mission. He was the Chief Scientist of the New Millennium Program, NASA's space flight technology demonstration program, from 1997 to 2001. Dr. Crisp was the Principal Investigator of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) mission, NASA's first mission designed specifically to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide. He is currently serving as the Science Team Leader for NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission.