Monday, March 29, 2004

Carl Weiman, Nobel Prize in Physics, 2001

At the annual Robert Hofstadter Memorial Lecture at the Stanford Physics department, this year's speaker was Professor Carl Weiman from the University of Colorado. Prof. Weiman was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001 for his work on achieving and studying the Bose Einstein condensate - a condensate of atoms formed at temperatures of around 10-7 Kelvin, predicted by Albert Einstein in 1924. Prof. Weiman's method for achieving the condensate at such low temperatures involves first slowing down Rubidium-85 atoms by bombarding them with lasers and then further cooling down the atoms using magnetic fields to form an envelope around the lowest energy atoms. Prof. Weiman was able to describe all this in simple physics and keep the hour long lecture very interesting. The Q&A session was also pretty enlightening, especially because of the insightful questions that some members of the audience came up with. There were other Nobel laureates among the audience including Professor Steven Chu, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997.

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