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Archive for Monday, January 16, 2006

Nobel-winning physicist to speak at KU this week

January 16, 2006

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Frank Wilczek, a winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in physics, will visit Kansas University this month to deliver a speech titled "The Universe is a Strange Place."

Wilczek is the Herman Feshbach professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He won the Nobel Prize along with David Gross and H. David Politzer for the "discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction."

Asymptotic freedom is a phenomenon whereby quarks behave as free particles when they are close together but become more strongly attracted to each other as the distance between them increases. This theory forms the key to the interpretation of almost all experimental studies involving modern particle accelerators.

Wilczek was a graduate student at Princeton University in 1973 when he and Gross discovered asymptotic freedom. The theory - independently discovered by fellow prize winner Politzer - was vital for the development of quantum chromodynamics. The Nobel Academy said the trio "have brought physics one step closer to fulfilling a grand dream, to formulate a unified theory comprising gravity as well - a theory for everything."

The event is set for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Spencer Museum of Art auditorium. A reception will follow with Wilczek signing copies of the 1987 book "Longing for the Harmonies," which Wilczek wrote with his wife, Betsy Devine.

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