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Prof. Carl Wieman: "Bose-Einstein condensation: quantum weirdness at the lowest temperature in the universe"

March 29, 2004 - 9:20am
Teaching Center at the Science and Engineering Quad (TCSEQ)
Room 201
370 Serra Mall, Stanford University

We are very pleased to announce that the annual Robert Hofstadter Memorial Lectures have been scheduled for Monday, March 29, 2004 (an evening public lecture at 8:00 PM) and Tuesday, March 30  (an afternoon colloquium at 4:15 PM).  Both lectures will be held at Stanford University, and we hope that you will plan to attend.  This year we are honored that our distinguished lecturer will be Professor Carl Wieman, who received his B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1977.  He has been at the University of Colorado since 1984, where he is currently a Distinguished Professor of Physics and a Fellow of JILA.  He has carried out research in a variety of areas of laser spectroscopy, including using laser light to cool atoms.  This led to cooling atoms sufficiently to attain Bose-Einstein condensation in a vapor, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, as well as numerous other awards. He has worked on a variety of innovations in teaching physics to a broad range of students, including the Physics Education Technology Project, which creates online interactive simulations for learning physics (http://www.colorado.edu/physics/phet). He is a 2001 recipient of the National Science Foundations Distinguished Teaching Scholar Award and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Board of Physics and Astronomy, the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education and the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics.

Evening Public Lecture: "Bose-Einstein condensation: quantum weirdness at the lowest temperature in the universe"

8:00 PM on Monday, March 29, 2004

In 1924 Einstein predicted that a gas would undergo a dramatic transformation at a sufficiently low temperature (now known as Bose-Einstein condensation or BEC).  In 1995, my group was able to observe this transformation by cooling a gas sample to the unprecedented temperature of less than 100 billionths of a degree above absolute zero.  The BEC state is a novel form of matter in which a large number of atoms lose their individual identities and behave as a single quantum entity, the "superatom".  This entity is the atom analogue to laser light, and, although large enough to be easily seen and manipulated, exhibits the nonintuitive quantum behavior normally important only at much tinier size scales.  The study and use of the curious properties of BEC has now become an important subfield of physics.  I will discuss how we create BEC and some of the subsequent research we have done on it.  Interactive applets as a tool for teaching science will be demonstrated in the presentation.

Afternoon Colloquium: "Resonant BEC: a new macroscopic quantum system"

4:15 PM on Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Bose-Einstein condensation in Rubidium 85 is a macroscopic quantum system where the self interactions can be rapidly adjusted over a very large range. This is done simply by changing a magnetic field near a Feshbach resonance. Condensates near such a resonance show a variety of interesting features, a few of which are actually understood. These include BEC supernova-like explosions ("Bosenovas") and exotic coherent superpositions of atomic and molecular BECs.

Both lectures will be held on campus in our Teaching Facility on Serra Street (TCSEQ, Room 201). We are also planning a dinner on the evening of TUESDAY, March 30, 2004 at the Stanford Faculty Club, requiring a reply by March 26.  If you have further questions, please contact us by phone:  (650) 723-4347, fax: (650) 723-1821 or email:  tice@leland.stanford.edu.  We hope you will plan to attend these exciting talks.

This event belongs to the following series