Moti Lal Rustgi Lecture Series

Professor Moti Lal Rustgi

The Moti Lal Rustgi Memorial Lecture Series was established in 1993 through a generous endowment from the Rustgi family to honor and remember former physics colleague, Professor Moti Lal Rustgi. The lecture is given annually by distinguished researchers in a broad area of physics study. 

About Professor Rustgi

Moti Lal Rustgi, PhD, was born in Delhi, India, where he received his BSc and MSc degrees from Delhi University in 1949 and 1951, respectively. He obtained his PhD in physics at Louisiana State University in 1957, working with Joseph S. Levinger; after which he went on to postdoctoral positions at Yale University; the National Research Council in Ottawa, Canada; and Harvard University. He returned to India in 1961 and served as a Reader in Physics at Banaras Hindu University until early 1963, at which time he returned to the United States to take up a position as assistant professor of physics at the University of Southern California. After one year there, he became an assistant professor at Yale University, where he worked extensively with Professor Gregory Breit. He joined the University at Buffalo as an associate professor in 1966, and was promoted to full professor in 1968.

Professor Rustgi worked in nuclear physics, atomic physics, medical physics, and condensed matter physics. The bulk of his work was in atomic and nuclear physics. He worked on electromagnetic interactions with nuclei, the nucleon-nucleon interaction, parity violation in nuclei, the structure of nuclei, as well as the scattering of high energy particles from nuclei. His favorite topic was undoubtedly the photodisintegration of the deuteron, a subject he returned to again and again and on which he was considered an expert. In atomic physics he worked on relativistic radiative transitions, atomic form factors, atomic ionization, and the stopping power of matter at high energies.

In the last decade of his life, Professor Rustgi's interests broadened into other areas. He examined the absorption of RF and microwave radiation in biological systems, and carried out Monte Carlo calculations for the electron spectrum produced by photons in materials of interest to health physicists. He also became involved in studies of quantum well structures of interest to semiconductor physicists.

Professor Rustgi was a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He served as a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a visiting scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as a faculty research participant at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

Professor Rustgi was an outstanding citizen of the University at Buffalo. He possessed an all-too-rare ability to make significant contributions to every aspect of university life. Besides being an outstanding researcher, he was highly regarded as a teacher, and gave freely of his time in service to the university.

Professor Rustgi passed away on November 16, 1992 at the age of 63.

Past Lectures

1993: Inauguration, The Moti Lal Rustgi Memorial Symposium

Michael G. Fuda, University at Buffalo
Relativistic Quantum Mechanics of Few Particle Systems

Joseph Levinger, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Professor M.L. Rustgi's Contributions to Nuclear Physics
Professor Levinger was Moti Rustgi's Ph.D. thesis advisor.

Bruce D. McCombe, University at Buffalo
Shallow Impurities in Semiconductor Quantum Well and Superlattices

T. Sandhu, Oakwood Hospital, Dearborn, MI
Dose Distribution Optimization for Conformal Radiation Therapy
T. Sandhu did his Ph.D. thesis with Moti Rustgi.

1994: John Clarke, High Tc Superconductivity, SQUIDS and Brains

1996: Herman Feshbach, The Evolution of a Nuclear Reaction

Presenter: Herman Feshbach, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Feshbach is a member of the National Academy of Science, and is a recipient of the National Medal of Science (1986), as well as the T.W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics (1973). He is a former President of the American Physical Society (1980-1981). Besides his many research publications, he is co-author with P.M. Morse of the classic text, Methods in Theoretical Physics; as well as co-author with A. deShalit of Theoretical Nuclear Physics.

1996: Leon Lederman, Miletus to the Supercollider

Presenter: Leon Lederman, Nobel Laureate, Director Emeritus for Fermilab

In 1956, Professor Lederman and his team from Columbia University discovered the long-lived neutral K-meson particle. In 1961, Professor Lederman and his group discovered the muon neutrino, which provided the first proof that there was more than one type of neutrino, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1988. In 1977, he and his collaborators discovered evidence for a new elementary particle called the bottom quark. A broad spectrum of innovative experiments he led at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermilab, and the CERN laboratory in Geneva set the paradigm for modern nuclear physics and particle physics research. He was chairman of the board and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1991-93). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Besides the Nobel Prize (1988), he has received the National Medal of Science (1965), the Wolf Prize in Physics (1983), and the Enrico Fermi Award (1992).

1997: John Dirk Walecka, Electron Scattering and Nuclear Physics

Presenter: John Dirk Walecka, College of William and Mary

Professor Walecka won the prestigious Bonner prize in Nuclear Physics on 28 November 1995; "for his preeminent theoretical guidance and inspirational leadership in exploiting electromagnetic and weak probes of the nucleus and for his fundamental contribution to the understanding of the nucleus as a relativistic quantum many-body system." Dr. Walecka was formerly Professor of Physics at Stanford University, and from 1986-92 he was Scientific Director of CEBAF, now known as the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. At present he is Senior Fellow at CEBAF and Professor of Physics at William and Mary, as well as Governor's Distinguished CEBAF Professor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is the author of six books and more than 130 publications in scientific journals.

1998: Wolfgang Ketterle, Matter Made of Matter Waves/Bose-Einstein Condensation and the Atom Laser

Presenter: Wolfgang Ketterle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Ketterle holds the John D. MacArthur chair at MIT, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His awards include the Michael and Philip Platzman Award (MIT,1994), a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship (1996), the Rabi Prize of the American Physical Society (1997), the Gustav-Hertz Prize of the German Physical Society (1997), and the Discover Magazine Award for Technological Innovation (1998). He was the Distinguished Traveling Lecturer of the Division of Laser Science of the American Physics Society (1998-1999). He is among the first scientists to observe the phenomenon of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute atomic gases, and to realize the atom laser.

1999: Lawrence M. Krauss, The Physics of Star Trek

Presenter: Lawrence M. Krauss, Case Western Reserve University

Professor Krauss is active in the emerging field of particle astrophysics, in which the cosmological implications of ideas concerning fundamental interactions, and astrophysical and cosmological constraints on particle physics are explored. He is the author of over 170 scientific publications as well as numerous popular articles and books on physics and astronomy. The books include; The Fifth Essence: The Search for Dark Matter in the Universe, Fear of Physics, The Physics of Star Trek, and most recently, Beyond Star Trek. He is the recipient of a Gravity Research Foundation First Prize Award (1984), and a Presidential Investigator Award (1986), and he is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

2000: Horst Stormer, Fractional Charges and Other Tales from Flatland

Presenter: Horst Stormer, Nobel Laureate, Columbia University

Professor Stormer shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics with Daniel C. Tsui and Robert B. Laughlin "for discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations".

2002: Douglas Osheroff, What Happens at Absolute Zero?

Presenter: Douglas Osheroff, Nobel Laureate, Stanford University

Professor Osheroff shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics with Professors David M. Lee and Robert C. Richardson of Cornell University "for their discovery of superfluidity in Helium-3."

2002: Chris Quigg, The Coming Revolutions in Particle Physics

Presenter: Chris Quigg, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Chris Quigg is internationally known for his studies of heavy quarks and his insights into particle interactions at ultrahigh energies. From 1974 to 1991 he served on the faculty of the University of Chicago. He has been Visiting Professor at cole Normale Suprieure in Paris, Cornell, and Princeton; Erwin Schrdinger Professor at the University of Vienna; and Scholar-in-Residence at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center. Professor Quigg holds degrees from Yale and Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society. The author of a celebrated textbook on particle physics, he is Past Chair of the Division of Particle and Fields of the American Physical Society and Editor of the Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science.

2003: Rocky Kolb, The Quantum and the Cosmos

Presenter: Rocky Kolb, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Edward W. Kolb (known to most as Rocky) is a founding head of the NASA/Fermilab Astrophysics Group at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. A native of New Orleans, he received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas. Postdoctoral research was performed at the California Institute of Technology and Los Alamos National Laboratory where he was the J. Robert Oppenheimer Research Fellow. He has served on editorial boards of several international scientific journals as well as Astronomy magazine. Kolb is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He was the recipient of the 2003 Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the 1993 Quantrell Prize for teaching excellence at the University of Chicago. His book for the general public, Blind Watchers of the Sky, received the 1996 Emme Award of the American Aeronautical Society. The field of Rocky's research is the application of elementary-particle physics to the very early Universe. In addition to over 200 scientific papers, he is a co-author of The Early Universe, the standard textbook on particle physics and cosmology. In addition to writing articles for magazines and books, he teaches cosmology to non-science majors at the University of Chicago and is involved with pre-college education, participating in Fermilab's Saturday Morning Physics Program for high-school students and the Department of Energy high-school physics program for gifted students, as well as lecturing in institutes and workshops for science teachers. He has traveled the world, if not yet the Universe, giving scientific and public lectures. In addition to occasional lectures at Chicago's Adler Planetarium, Rocky is a Harlow Shapley Visiting Lecturer and Centennial Lecturer with the American Astronomical Society. In recent years he has been selected by the American Physical Society and the International Conference on High-Energy Physics to present public lectures in conjunction with international physics meetings. Also on the international scene, he was the Shell Key Lecturer in Edinburgh, presented a special public lecture in Salonika Greece as part of the cultural celebration of that city, and was selected to address the president of Pakistan as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country. He has also presented public lectures at the Royal Society of London, and in Rio de Janeiro, Valencia, and Barcelona. He is a past Fellow of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland. In recent years, Rocky was the Buhl lecturer in Pittsburgh, the Oppenheimer lecturer in Los Alamos, the Arthur lecturer at New York University, a Distinguished Lecturer in Cosmology at the National Science Foundation, and in Athens (Ohio) and Troy (New York) he presented the Graselli Lecture and the Resnick Lecture. This year he will be the Landsdowne lecturer at the University of Victoria in Canada, and the James lecturer at Purdue University. Rocky has appeared in several television productions, and can also be seen in the OMNIMAX/IMAX film The Cosmic Voyage.

2004: Klaus von Klitzing, From Micro- to Nano Electronics: A Quantum Leap

Presenter: Klaus von Klitzing, Max-Plank Institut für Festkörperforschung (Stuttgart, Germany)

The scaling laws for the miniaturization of microelectronic devices break down if the wave nature and the discrete charge of electrons dominate the electronic properties. These quantum phenomena do not mark the end in the miniaturization of devices but open the possibility to create new devices with new functions where for example the energy quantization of electrons in confined structures, tunnel phenomena through barriers and single electron charging of small islands play an important role. The talk gives an overview about the physics, technology and application of semiconductor quantum structures and discusses some recent basic research activities of my group in this field.

2005: Alan Guth, Cosmic Inflation and the Accelerating Universe

Presenter: Alan Guth, Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Inflation proposes that the expansion of the universe was propelled by a repulsive gravitational force generated by an exotic form of matter. After more than 20 years of development and scrutiny the evidence for the inflationary universe model now looks better than ever. In particular, inflation can explain the uniformity of the universe, the value of its mass density, and the properties of the faint ripples that are now being observed in the cosmic background radiation. It even offers a possible explanation for the origin of essentially all the matter in the universe. The recently discovered acceleration of the cosmic expansion has radically altered our picture of the universe, but has also helped to confirm the basic predictions of inflation. When the mass density needed to drive this acceleration is added to the previously known contributions, it sums to just the value predicted by inflation for the total mass density of the universe.

Professor Guth was a student at MIT from 1964 to 1971, acquiring S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees, all in physics. His Ph.D. thesis, done under the supervision of Francis Low, was an exploration of an early model of how quarks combine to form the elementary particles that we observe.

During the next nine years, Guth held postdoctoral positions at Princeton University, Columbia University, Cornell University, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), working mostly on rather abstract mathematical problems in the theory of elementary particles. While at Cornell, however, Guth was approached by a fellow postdoctoral physicist, Henry Tye, who persuaded Guth to join him in studying the production of magnetic monopoles in the early universe. This work changed the direction of Guth's career. The following year at SLAC he continued to work with Tye on magnetic monopoles. They found that standard assumptions in particle physics and cosmology would lead to a fantastic overproduction of magnetic monopoles, a conclusion that was reached slightly earlier by John Preskill, then at Harvard (now at Caltech). Guth and Tye began a search for alternatives that might avoid the magnetic monopole overproduction problem, and from this work Guth invented the modification of the big bang theory called the inflationary universe.

In September 1980 Guth returned to MIT as an associate professor. Guth has since been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been awarded the MIT School of Science Prize for Undergraduate Teaching (1999), the Franklin Medal for Physics of the Franklin Institute (2001), and the Dirac Prize of the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste (2002). He is now the Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics and a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT.

2007: Stuart Parkin, The Spin on Electronics!

Presenter: Dr. Stuart Parkin (IBM Almaden Research Center San Jose, California)

Today, nearly all microelectronic devices are based on storing or flowing the electron's charge. The electron also possesses a quantum mechanical property termed "spin", that gives rise to magnetism. Electrical current is comprised of "spin-up" and "spin-down" electrons, which behave as largely independent spin currents. The flow of these spin currents can be controlled in thin-film structures composed of atomically thin layers of conducting magnetic materials separated by non-magnetic conducting or insulating layers. The resistance of such devices, so-called spin-valves and magnetic tunnelling junctions, respectively, can be varied by controlling the relative magnetic orientation of the magnetic layers, giving rise to magneto-resistance tailored for different applications. Recent advances in generating, manipulating and detecting spin-polarized electrons and electrical current make possible new classes of spin based sensor, memory and logic devices, generally referred to as the field of spintronics. In particular, the spin-valve is a key component of all magnetic hard-disk drives manufactured today and enabled their nearly 1,000-fold increase in capacity over the past seven years1. The magnetic tunnel junction allows for a novel, high performance random access solid state memory which maintains its memory in the absence of electrical power. The respective strengths of these two major classes of digital data storage devices, namely the very low cost of disk drives and the high performance and reliability of solid state memories, may be combined in the future into a single spintronic memory-storage technology, the magnetic racetrack. We discuss the future of spintronic devices including, for example, the possibility of the life recorder, a device that could record everything you see or hear throughout your lifetime2.

1. Stuart Parkin et al., Magnetically engineered spintronic sensors and memory. Proc. IEEE 91, 661-680 2003).
2. Kevin Maney, "Every move you make could be stored on a PLR", US Today, September 8, 2004.

Dr. Stuart S.P. Parkin is an experimental physicist at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. His discoveries into the behavior of thin-film magnetic structures were critical in enabling recent increases in the data density and capacity of computer hard-disk drives.

Parkin also made key discoveries that led to IBM's pioneering use of the giant magnetoresistive (GMR) effect to read disk-drive data bits that were far smaller than could have been previously detected. He was the first to use sputtering techniques to create GMR structures, which consist of thin magnetic layers separated by non-magnetic metals. The electrical resistance parallel to the planes of such structures can change dramatically according to whether the magnetizations of consecutive magnetic layers are in the same or opposite directions (parallel or anti-parallel alignment, respectively).

In 1991, he discovered that slight changes in the thickness of the non-magnetic spacer layer caused large oscillations between parallel and anti-parallel magnetic alignment. And in 1994, Parkin and his IBM Research colleagues used this basic information to design and create GMR elements for what proved to be the most sensitive disk-drive read/write head made at that time. Subsequently, IBM introduced the GMR head in its disk-drive products in 1997. It is now used in all of the world's total production of disk drives. The GMR head has been a key enabler of the more than 30-fold increase in disk-drive data densities from 1997 to present (2.4 to more than 70 gigabits per square inch).

Parkin is currently studying magnetic tunnel junctions --which require just a few atomic layers of an electrical insulator between magnetic layers to create large resistance changes perpendicular to the layers' planes --and their use in both disk-drive recording heads more sensitive than GMR heads, and a new type of solid-state non-volatile magnetic random access memory (MRAM). Tunnel-junction heads may enable data-storage densities beyond 100 billion bits per square inch. Magnetic RAM chips could lead to instant-on computers with much better performance, energy-efficiency and battery life because they could combine the best attributes of the three major memories in use today: the data density (and thus low cost) of DRAM, the speed of SRAM, and the non-volatility of Flash memory. In 2001, IBM began an MRAM development program with Infineon based at IBM's Advanced Semiconductor Technology Center in East Fishkill, N.Y.

In May 1991, Parkin was awarded the Materials Research Society's Inaugural Outstanding Young Investigator Award and the Charles Vernon Boys Prize of the Institute of Physics (U.K.). In 1999, he was awarded the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Prize for Industrial Application of Physics. Dr. Parkin shared both the American Physical Society's International New Materials Prize (1994) and the European Physical Society's Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize (1997) with Albert Fert of University of Paris-Sud in Orsay, France, and Peter Grunberg of KFA Julich in Germany. Dr. Parkin is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. In 1997, he was elected to IBM's Academy of Technology and named one of IBM's Master Inventors. In 1999 he was named an IBM Fellow -IBM's highest technical honor --and in May 2000 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (London). R&D Magazine named Dr. Parkin "Innovator of the Year" in 2001. Since 1997, he has served as a Consulting Professor in Applied Physics at Stanford University.

A native of Watford, England, Dr. Parkin received his B.A. (1977) and was elected a Research Fellow (1979) at Trinity College in Cambridge, England, and was awarded his Ph.D (1980) at the Cavendish Laboratory, also in Cambridge. He joined IBM in 1982 as a World Trade Post-doctoral Fellow, becoming a permanent member of the staff the following year.

2008: Lee Smolin, Using the universe as a microscope to probe the micro-structure of space and time

Presenter: Dr. Lee Smolin (Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)

4:30 pm, 225 Natural Sciences Complex

A major problem in physics is the need for a single theory that combines Einstein's theory of space, time and cosmology-general relativity, with quantum theory. No approach is currently complete, but several approaches predict that space and time are discrete. That is, just as matter is composed of atoms, space itself is composed of building blocks. These are predicted to be extremely small-twenty powers of ten smaller than atomic nuclei.

Until recently it was believed that no experiment could check that prediction because it would require an accelerator as big as a galaxy. But in the last ten years it was realized that we have access to galaxy sized accelerators as well as to detectors the size of the universe. Amazingly, observations of very high frequency light and very energetic particles which travel to us from across the universe contain information about the micro-structure of space on scales quantum theories of gravity predict are discrete. Cosmic ray detectors such as AUGER and gamma ray detectors, MAGIC, GLASS and others are already providing us with information which rules out some approaches to quantum gravity. Near future observations may soon discriminate between several major approaches to the problem including possibly string theory and loop quantum gravity.

2009: S. James Gates, Jr., The DNA of Reality and Its Genome

Presenter: Professor S. James Gates, Jr. (University of Maryland)

Date: Friday, April 3, 2009
Time: 4:30 pm
Room: 112 Norton Hall, UB North Campus
Free and Open to the Public

A distinguished string theorist working at the cutting edge of physics, Sylvester James Gates, Jr., has also helped introduce scientific concepts to the public through the PBS television programs Breakthrough: The Changing Face of Science in America, A Science Odyssey, The Elegant Universe, and Einstein's Big Idea. Gates has served on the faculties of MIT, Howard University, California Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland, where he is currently John S. Toll Professor of Physics and Director of the Center for String and Particle Theory. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, which named him the first recipient of the Bouchet Award, and the National Society of Black Physicists, of which he is a past president. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 published research papers, co-authored one book and contributed numerous articles in others. In 2008, he participated in a number of events at the World Science Festival in New York City, including the Beyond Einstein panel and Science & The City. His awards include the MIT Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, the Klopsteg Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology.

2010: William D. Phillips, Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe

Presenter: Dr. William D. Phillips, Joint Quantum Institute (NIST and U. of Maryland)

Date: Friday, April 23, 2010
Time: 5:00 pm
Room: 225 Natural Sciences Complex, UB North Campus
Free and Open to the Public

At the beginning of the 20th century Einstein changed the way we think about Nature. At the beginning of the 21st century Einstein's thinking is 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, atomic clocks are still being improved, using atoms cooled to incredibly low temperatures. Atomic gases reach temperatures less than a billionth of a degree above Absolute Zero, without freezing. Such atoms are at the heart of Primary Clocks accurate to better than a second in 80 million years as well as both using and testing some of Einstein's strangest predictions. This will be a lively, multimedia presentation, that includes experimental demonstrations and down-to-earth explanations about some of today's most exciting science.

Dr. Phillips obtained his Ph.D. in physics from M.I.T. in 1976. He leads the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and is Distinguished University Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997 for developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, along with several other national and international scientific societies. He has received numerous awards and prizes for his scientific discoveries, and is a much sought after public speaker.

2011: Federico Capasso, Quantum Cascade Lasers: Widely Tailorable Light Sources from the Mid-infrared to the Far-infrared

Presenter: Professor Federico Capasso (Harvard University)

Date: Monday, April 11, 2011
Time: 5:00 pm
Room: Woldman Theater, 112 Norton Hall, UB North Campus
Free and Open to the Public

Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) represent a radical departure from diode lasers in that they don't rely on the bandgap for light emission. This freedom from bandgap slavery has many far-reaching implications that will be fully explored in this talk. I will trace the path from invention to exciting advances in the physics and applications of these revolutionary lasers which cover the mid- and far-infrared spectrum and are broadly impacting sensing, spectroscopy, and sub-wavelength photonics. The unipolar nature of QCLs combined with the capabilities of electronic band-structure engineering leads to unprecedented design flexibility and functionality compared to other lasers. Topics to be discussed also include: high power and room temperature CW operation in the Mid-IR, room temperature QCL-based Terahertz, and QCL with broadband lasing properties. QCLs have been used as a platform to demonstrate new plasmonic device concepts ranging from resonant optical antenna, to collimators and polarizers. The talk will conclude with applications to chemical sensing and trace gas analysis along with the ongoing commercialization of this technology.

Dr. Capasso is the Robert Wallace Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard University, which he joined in 2003 after a 27 year research career at Bell Laboratories where he became a Bell Labs Fellow and held several management positions including Vice President for Physical Research. His research has spanned a broad range of topics in the areas of electronics, photonics, mesoscopic physics, nanotechnology and quantum electrodynamics, and he is a co-inventor of the quantum cascade laser. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Member of the Franklin Institute. His awards include the King Faisal International Prize for Science, the APS Schawlow Prize, the IEEE Edison Medal, the OSA Wood Prize, the Materials Research Society Medal, the Rank Prize in Optoelectronics, the IOP Duddell Medal, and the Willis Lamb Medal, among others. He is a Fellow of the OSA, APS, IEEE, SPIE, IOP and AAAS.

2012: John C. Mather, History of the universe in a nutshell: from the Big Bang to life and the end of time

Presenter: Dr. John C. Mather, (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and University of Maryland)

Date: Friday, April 20, 2012
Time: 5:00 pm
Room: 225 Natural Sciences Complex, UB North Campus
Free and Open to the Public

The history of the universe in a nutshell, from the Big Bang to now, and on to the future – John Mather will tell the story of how we got here, how the Universe began with a Big Bang, how it could have produced an Earth where sentient beings can live, and how those beings are discovering their history. Mather was Project Scientist for NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, which measured the spectrum (the color) of the heat radiation from the Big Bang, discovered hot and cold spots in that radiation, and hunted for the first objects that formed after the great explosion. He will explain Einstein’s biggest mistake, how Edwin Hubble discovered the expansion of the universe, how the COBE mission was built, and how the COBE data support the Big Bang theory. He will also show NASA’s plans for the next great telescope in space, the James Webb Space Telescope. It will look even farther back in time than the Hubble Space Telescope, and will peer inside the dusty cocoons where stars and planets are being born today. It is capable of examining Earth-like planets around other stars using the transit technique, and future missions may find signs of life.

Dr. John C. Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, where he specializes in infrared astronomy and cosmology. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics at Swarthmore College and his doctorate in physics at the University of California, Berkeley. As an NRC postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (New York City), he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer (74-76), and came to GSFC to be the Study Scientist (76-88), Project Scientist (88-98), and the Principal Investigator for the Far IR Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on COBE. He and his team showed that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million, confirming the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy. The COBE team also discovered the cosmic anisotropy (hot and cold spots in the background radiation), now believed to be the primordial seeds that led to the structure of the universe today. It was these findings that led to Dr. Mather receiving the Nobel Prize in 2006.

Dr. Mather is the recipient of many other honors and awards, including his 2007 listing in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in The World. Mather now serves as Senior Project Scientist (95-present) for the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the great Hubble Space Telescope.

2013: Anthony J. Leggett, What can we do with a quantum liquid?

Presenter: Prof. Anthony J. Leggett, (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Date: Friday, March 29, 2013
Time: 5:00 pm
Room: 225 Natural Sciences Complex, UB North Campus
Free and Open to the Public

Quantum liquids are physical systems which display the effects not only of quantum mechanics but also those of quantum statistics,that is of the characteristic indistinguishability of elementary particles. The most spectacular manifestations of quantum statistics are the phenomenon of Bose-Einstein condensation and the closely related one of Cooper pairing; in both cases a finite fraction of all the particles in the system are forced to all do exactly the same thing at the same time, and as a result effects which would normally be obscured by thermal noise may become visible, sometimes spectacularly so. I will review some examples of such behavior in degenerate alkali gases, superconductors and superfluid helium-3.

Sir Anthony J. Leggett studied physics at Oxford University, which awarded him his doctoral degree in 1963 and an Honorary Doctorate in 2005. After postdoctoral research at Illinois, Kyoto, Oxford and Harvard, he served on the faculty of the University of Sussex, and since 1983 as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor and Center for Advanced Study Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois. He is widely recognized as a world leader in the theory of low-temperature physics, and his pioneering work on superfluidity was recognized by the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics. His research on cuprate superconductivity, superfluidity in atomic gases, amorphous solids at low temperature, topological quantum computation, and the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics, have been recognized by the Maxwell Medal and Prize, the Paul Dirac Medal, the Wolf Prize in Physics, and several other awards. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society (UK), the American Physical Society, and the Indian National Science Academy. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK). He was knighted (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 "for services to physics".


2014: Helen R. Quinn, What is changing in Science Education, and what does that mean for you and your children?

Presenter: Prof. Helen R. Quinn, (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University)

Date: Friday, April 25, 2014
Time: 5:00 pm
Room: 112 Norton Hall, UB North Campus
Free and Open to the Public

At both the K-12 and the college level significant changes are underway in how science is taught. The report "A Framework for k-12 Science Education" has led to the Next Generation Science Standards, which have been adopted by 8 states and are under consideration in many more, including New York. These standards stress engagement of students in the practices of science and engineering, along with a focus on a limited set of core ideas of the major natural science disciplines and of major concepts that are common across them (cross-cutting concepts). At the undergraduate level similar change in emphasis, toward doing rather than simply knowing about science, is recommended based on research on learning, particularly that summarized in "Discipline Based Education Research" (another Board on Science Education study). I will discuss how the framing of a set of science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts in the k-12 Framework informs the shifts needed at both levels. Importantly, future science teachers, including elementary school teachers (many of whom are not science majors and take only introductory science courses at the college level), will need to experience the science practices in their college science courses in order to be able to support their students in using them effectively. I will argue that these shifts in science teaching and learning can benefit all students.

Helen Quinn is professor emerita in the Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Chair of the National Research Council's Board on Science Education. Dr. Quinn is a theoretical physicist who was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2003 and holds numerous honors, including the prestigious Dirac and Klein medals, for her research contributions. She was most recently awarded the 2013 J.J. Sakurai Prize (together with Roberto Peccei) for their fundamental theoretical contributions on CP violation which led to the prediction of axions, a candidate dark matter particle. She received her Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. She is a Fellow and former president of the American Physical Society. She has had a long term engagement in education issues at the local, state, and national level. Her interests range from science curriculum and standards to the preparation and continuing education of science teachers. Dr. Quinn has served on numerous National Research Council committees. Her most recent NRC committee work includes the Committee on a Framework for Assessment of Science Proficiency in K-12 and the Committee on Human Spaceflight. Her earlier NRC experience includes (among others) chairing the committee the produced the report "A Framework for k-12 Science Education" and the Committee on the Review and Evaluation of NASA's Pre-College Education Program; and membership on the committee that produced the report "Taking Science to School"; and, as part of the 2010 astrophysics decadal study, the Panel on Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation.



2015: Philip Kim, Relativity, Quantum Physics, and Graphene

Presenter: Prof. Philip Kim, (Department of Physics, Harvard University)

Date: Friday, May 8, 2015
Time: 5:00 pm
UB North Campus
Free and Open to the Public

The two most important achievements in physics in the 20th century were the discoveries of the theory of relativity and quantum physics. In 1928, Paul Dirac synthesized these two theories and wrote the Dirac equation to describe particles moving close to the speed of light in a quantum mechanical way, and thus initiated the beginning of relativistic quantum mechanics. Graphene, a single atomic layer of graphite discovered only a few years ago, has been provided physicists opportunities to explore an interesting analogy to relativistic quantum mechanics. The unique electronic structure of graphene yields an energy and momentum relation mimicking that of relativistic quantum particles, providing opportunities to explore exotic and exciting science and potential technological applications based on the flat carbon form. As a pure, flawless, single-atom-thick crystal, graphene conducts electricity faster at room temperature than any other substance. While engineers envision a range of products made of graphene, such as ultrahigh-speed transistors and flat panel display, physicists are finding the material enables them to test a theory of exotic phenomena previously thought to be observable only in black holes and high-energy particle accelerators. In this presentation I will discuss the brief history of graphene research and their implications in science and technology.



2016: Joseph Incandela, And then there was mass: from the Higgs to the Unknown

Presenter: Prof. Joseph Incandela, (Department of Physics, UC Santa Barbara)

Date: Friday, April 15, 2016
Time: 5:00 pm
Buffalo Museum of Science Free and Open to the Public
Free and Open to the Public

In 2012, noted physicist Joe Incandela rocked the world by announcing a historic discovery: a new particle resembling the long-sought Higgs boson. This lecture will offer a unique insider view of the Large Hadron Collider, the quest for the Higgs, its profound role in defining the structure and evolution of our universe, what recent data has shown and implications for the future.