Robert B. Laughlin, 1998 Nobel laureate in physics and
president of the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and
Technology, will deliver the 2004-2005 Ferdinand G.
Brickwedde Lecture in
Physics and Astronomy at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5.
Titled "The Emergent Age," the lecture will take place
in the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy's
Schafler Auditorium on the Homewood campus.
One of the world's leading theoretical physicists and
a frequent speaker and essayist on public dimensions of
science, Laughlin, who also serves as Robert M. and Anne
Bass Professor of Physics at Stanford University, is known
for proposing a new way of looking at science's fundamental
laws. Now on an East Coast tour to promote a new book, A
Different Universe: Reinventing Physics From the Bottom
Down, Laughlin argues that rather than scrutinizing
ever-smaller components of the universe, scientists should
turn their attention to what he calls "emergent properties"
of large clusters of matter.
"If we consider the world of emergent properties
instead, suddenly the deepest mysteries are as close as the
nearest ice cube or grain of salt," reads a description of
the book. "The most fundamental laws of physics--such as
Newton's laws of motion and quantum mechanics--are, in
fact, emergent. They are properties of large assemblages of
matter, and when their exactness is examined too closely,
it vanishes into nothing."
Laughlin, who won the Nobel Prize for his theory of
the fractional quantum Hall effect, also will serve as
colloquium speaker for the Henry A. Rowland Department of
Physics and Astronomy on Thursday, April 7. His topic will
be "Quantum Criticality and Black Holes."
The Brickwedde lectures were established in 1981 and
are funded by an endowment provided by Johns Hopkins
alumnus Ferdinand G. Brickwedde and his wife, Langhorne
Howard Brickwedde. Brickwedde was a co-discoverer of
deuterium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen. He was long
associated with the National Bureau of Standards and was
dean of the College of Chemistry and Physics at
Pennsylvania State University from 1956 to 1963.
As part of the lecture tradition, at least one
outstanding scientist is invited to campus for a three-day
period each academic year. During that visit, the scientist
delivers a public address and the weekly departmental
colloquium. As stipulated by the Brickweddes, the visiting
scientists are asked to spend generous amounts of time with
For details on the lecture, call Pam Carmen at