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William D. Phillips, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics for his innovations with laser cooling of atoms, will deliver an Old Dominion University Nobel Laureate Lecture 10 a.m. Monday, March 13, in the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

The multimedia presentation, "Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe," will appeal to a broad audience, ranging from schoolchildren to physicists, said Amin Dharamsi, ODU professor electrical and computer engineering who established the lecture series in 1992. Professor Phillips is the sixth Nobel Laureate and his talk is the eleventh in the series.

Also, an open forum led by Phillips is scheduled for the same day, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Rectors Room of ODU's Webb Center.

Both the lecture and forum are free and open to the public.

Phillips, who did his doctoral and post-postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, joined the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in 1978 and has been a NIST Fellow since 1996.

His presentation will address Albert Einstein's view of time, as well as the eminent scientist's theories about atoms cooled to incredibly low temperatures. Einstein's ideas helped bring about the development of atomic clocks at NIST, producing the best timekeepers ever.

Today, atomic clocks are being improved because of Phillips' experiments demonstrating just how effective radiation pressure from a laser could be at slowing and cooling a beam of neutral atoms.

His techniques for using laser light to cool and manipulate atoms led to the observation a decade ago of a new form of matter called atomic Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). The discovery verified Einstein's 1924 prediction that ultra-cold temperatures would send atoms of an ideal gas into their lowest energy levels and make individual atoms behave uniformly in a single quantum mechanical state.

BEC has given scientists the rare opportunity to view quantum mechanics at work on a macroscopic scale.

For more information, call 683-4467.

This article was posted on: January 20, 2006

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