Einstein, Time, and Light:
Another Look at Einsteinís Thinking and the Measurement of Time in the International Year of Light
Sponsored by Millen, White, Zelano & Branigan, PC
At the beginning of the 20th century Einstein changed the way we think about Time. Near the end of the 20th century scientists learned how to use laser light to cool a gas of atoms to temperatures millions of times lower than anything else in the universe. Now, in the 21st century, Einstein's thinking, ultracold atoms, and new uses of light are shaping one of the key scientific and technological wonders of contemporary life: atomic clocks, the best timekeepers ever made. Such super-accurate clocks are essential to industry, commerce, and science: they are the heart of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which guides cars, airplanes, and hikers to their destinations. Today, atoms with temperatures near absolute zero, held by lasers, and ticking at the frequency of light, keep time to within a second in the age of the universe, about 1 second in 435,000,000,000,000,000. This lecture will be a lively, multimedia presentation, including experimental demonstrations and down-to-earth explanations, of some of the science of laser trapping, ultra-cold atoms, fantastically accurate time keeping and other aspects of today's most exciting developments in the science of light and quanta.
William D. Phillips leads the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group in the Quantum Measurement Division of the Physical Measurement Laboratory at National Institute of Standards and Technology. He is also Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute of NIST and the University of Maryland. and co-director of JQI's Physics Frontier Center.
Bill did doctoral work at MIT on the magnetic moment of the proton in water. He then went on develop methods to trap and cool atoms, and to study them at "rest"' first as a Chaim Weizmann Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT and then at NIST. He is particularly recognized for developing the Zeeman slower, in which a laser beam and a magnetic field are configured to greatly slow - and slow - a stream of atoms. He made many other fundamental contributions to cooling atoms to temperatures so near absolute zero they are a colder than the coldest things in the universe. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for his work on cooling and trapping, together with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and Steven Chu. The development of these techniques has been especially fertile for the study of fundamental physical phenomena, leading, for instance, to the Nobel-Prize winning laboratory formation of Bose-Einstein condensates by Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman and, independently, by Wolfgang Ketterle And it has allowed the development of fantastically accurate clocks, themselves a highly valuable tool for physicists and of great importance to modern technology.
Bill is well known for his theatrical, informative and involving science lectures. He is a native Pennsylvanian, born in Wilkes-Barre PA, and educated in the public schools there. And he earned a BS in Physics from Juniata College and a PhD from MIT .