The Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 23, 2001
April 23, 2001
VOL. 30, NO. 31


Nobel Laureate Burton Richter Will Give Brickwedde Lecture

By Michael Purdy
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

As governments everywhere strive to find a way to cope with the rising costs of electricity, natural gas and oil, a Nobel laureate is planning to describe in a speech at Hopkins a different perspective on the future of energy.

Burton Richter, director emeritus of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and co-recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, will give a talk titled "Energy in the 21st Century" on April 24. The talk begins at 4 p.m. in the Schafler Auditorium of the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy at Homewood.

Richter plans to describe the strains that the energy demands of Earth's rapidly growing populations are placing on the economy and the environment. He believes a transition to sustainable development requires humanity to shift its attention "away from carbon-based fuels toward a mix of renewable forms of energy, nuclear power and massive conservation efforts." Richter will critique renewable energy resources, describing the promise and the problems that each may bring.

Richter's talk is part of the annual Brickwedde Lecture Series, funded through a grant from Milton Brickwedde and his wife, Langhorn Howard Brickwedde. Milton Brickwedde received his doctorate in physics from Hopkins in 1925.

Richter, the series' 22nd speaker, shared the Nobel Prize with Samuel Ting, an MIT researcher, for discovering a new type of heavy elementary particle known as a psi or J particle, in November 1974.

According to Jonathan Bagger, a Hopkins professor of physics and mathematics, "This discovery set off something now known as the November revolution in particle physics. There had been several experimental results that suggested to theorists the need for a new quark, which was whimsically called the charmed quark. Until Richter and Ting found this particle, though, experimentalists were skeptical about whether charm was real.

"This was in the wild and wooly days before the Standard Model became standard," Bagger continues, referring to physicists' model of the particles that convey force and make up matter. "Proof of the charmed quark, supplied by Richter and Ting, made a crucial piece of the Standard Model fall into place for everyone."