Katzenstein Distinguished Lecture Series

Stone Cold Science: Bose-Einstein Condensation and the Weird World of Physics a Millionth of a Degree from Absolute Zero.

Eric A. Cornell

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Atoms are known to possess wave-like properties, but they display them reluctantly. In the 1920's, Einstein extended Bose's work on photons to atoms, predicting that at sufficiently low temperatures, certain atoms would condense into the lowest possible energy state. The resulting state, a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), is represented by a coherent macroscopic wavefunction, where the atoms "sing together in unison." The relationship of a BEC to a normal sample of atoms is similar to that between a laser and a light bulb. In 1995, this intriguing state of matter was clearly observed in a sample of 2000 rubidium atoms cooled to 20 nK above absolute zero by Cornell and Wieman and their colleagues at JILA. Since that time, the field has exploded, generating a tremendous amount of excitement in the areas of atomic physics, condensed matter physics, and statistical mechanics.

Having grown up in Massachusetts and California, Dr. Cornell received the B.S. in Physics from Stanford University in 1985 and the Ph.D. from MIT in 1990. After two years as a postdoc at JILA, he joined the staff at NIST as a Senior Scientist. He is currently a Physicist at NIST, as well as a Professor Adjunct at the University of Colorado and a Fellow of JILA.

Dr. Cornell is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. He is the recipient of the Samuel Wesley Stratton Award from NIST, the Zeiss Award in Optics, the Gold Medal from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Fritz London Award for low temperature physics, the Rabi Prize of the American Physical Society, the 1997 King Faisal International Prize for Science, the Lorentz Medal, the R.W. Wood Prize, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, and, of course, the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Friday, November 15, 2002
4:00 PM
Gant Science Complex
Physics Department
Room P36

(A reception at 3:30 in the Physics Library, Room P-103, will precede the lecture)


© 2002 Department of Physics, University of Connecticut
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