As part of the 2017-18 Distinguished Lecture Series, California State University, Chico’s College of Natural Sciences will host Nobel Laureate William D. Phillips from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Phillips was part of a team to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for its work in developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. He will visit the CSU, Chico campus from April 8-10.
Highlighting Phillips’ visit is a free, public presentation titled “Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe” on Monday, April 9, at 4:15 p.m. inside Harlen Adams Theatre (Performing Arts Center 144). He will discuss the science around the research that earned him a Nobel Prize, including the ability for ultra-cold atoms to dip to temperatures a billionth of a degree above absolute zero.
Additionally, Phillips is donating a vacuum chamber, where hot atoms are cooled to ultra-cold temperatures, to the University’s physics department, allowing CSU, Chico physics students to experiment with the ultra-cold atoms using additional laser beams.
Xueli Zou, chair of the Department of Physics, noted that this type of research, which remains on the industry’s leading edge, requires start-up costs of about $200,000.
“This equipment donation equates to a large portion of this cost, making these experiments possible for the first time in the CSU system,” Zou said.
Also during his visit, Phillips will give a physics seminar to University physics students and faculty, and meet with them inside and outside of the classroom.
“It’s exciting that faculty members and students here at CSU, Chico are collaborating with a Nobel Laureate, and we’re looking forward to having him visit our facilities and present a public lecture,” said David Hassenzahl, dean of the College of Natural Sciences.
Aside from being an engaging and entertaining speaker, Phillips is also widely known for his ability to explain conceptually difficult physics in a way that audiences of all ages can understand. Zou emphasizes the importance of science and physical education, and suggests that visits like Phillips’ can help make a tremendous impact.
“Innovation and technology are both driven by an understanding of basic science, physics being the most fundamental of all,” she said. “It is extremely important to have high-quality science education at all levels to ensure our nation’s competitiveness on the world stage and to develop the transformative technologies of tomorrow.”
People who require an accommodation in order to participate in the presentation or who have questions about accessibility should contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.