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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 4, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 28
Nobel Laureate Robert B. Laughlin to Give Brickwedde Lecture

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 the students.

For details on the lecture, call Pam Carmen at 410-516-7346.


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