Nobel laureate Cornell to speak at UNK April 2

Contact: Kenneth Trantham, physics and physical science, 308-865-8278, tranthamkw@unk.edu

Kearney, Neb., March 27, 2013 — Eric Cornell, a professor of physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, and awardee of the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics, will be at the University of Nebraska at Kearney April 2-3. He will give a public science lecture at 6 p.m. April 2 at Bruner Hall of Science.

Cornell’s work is on Bose-Einstein condensate, which he and Carl E. Wieman synthesized in 1995. This state of matter was predicted in the 1920s by Satyrendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein, as a state of matter of a dilute gas of bosons cooled to near absolute zero, resulting in the effect of macroscopic quantum phenomena.

In addition to his appointment at CU-Boulder, he is a physicist at the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology, and has a lab at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics – one of the leading physical science research institutes in the U.S.

Cornell was born in Palo Alto, Calif., attended Stanford University, studying abroad in China and Taiwan. After earning his bachelor’s degree he enrolled in graduate school at MIT, then joined Wieman at CU-Boulder as a postdoctoral researcher, where he immediately began research on the Bose-Einstein condensate.

Cornell’s public lecture on April 2 is “Stone Cold Science: Bose-Einstein Condensation and the Weird World of Physics a Millionth of a Degree Above Absolute Zero,” in which  he will describe the phenomenon and his research.

“As atoms get colder and colder, they become more and more like waves, and less like particles,” explained Kenneth Trantham, associate professor and chair of physics and physical science at UNK. “When a gas of atoms gets so cold that the ‘waviness’ of one atom overlaps the waviness of another, the result is a sort of quantum mechanical identity crisis, a “condensation” predicted 85 years ago by Albert Einstein. Eric Cornell will discuss how one reaches the necessary record-low temperatures, and explain why one goes to all the trouble to make this bizarre state of matter.”

Trantham said this lecture is intended to be accessible by the general public. It follows a 5 p.m. reception in the Bruner Hall of Science lobby.

Cornell will visit with students at a “Chalk Talk” and symposium earlier on April 2, and is inviting students to go “Run with a Nobel Laureate,” 9 a.m. April 3. The Chalk Talk will engage students in a discussion about science careers, how the public views science, or any topic.

For information, contact Trantham at tranthamkw@unk.edu

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