Talk Title: "Time, Einstein, and the Coolest Stuff
What is time? This question intrigued Einstein. In 2005
as the World Year of Physics recalls Einstein's "miraculous
year" of 1905, which changed forever our understanding
of Nature, we continue to be excited by time and its measurement.
Atomic clocks are the most accurate timepieces ever made,
and are essential for modern life. For example, the Global
Positioning System (GPS), which guides aircraft, cars,
and hikers to their destinations, depends on atomic clocks
and on Einstein's theories. The
limitations of atomic clocks come from the thermal motion
of the atoms: hot atoms move rapidly and suffer from time
shifts, which are also predicted by Einstein's Theory
Contrary to intuition, we can cool things by shining laser
light on them. With laser cooling, applying ideas that
originated with Einstein, we cool gases to less than one
millionth of a degree above Absolute Zero. The slowly
moving atoms in such a gas allow us to make even more
accurate clocks, already so good that they would gain
or lose less than a second in 40 million years. Laser
cooling has also made possible the observation of a long-standing
prediction of Einstein: Bose-Einstein condensation, hailed
as one of the most important recent scientific developments,
and the coolest thing yet!
This will be a multimedia presentation, suitable for
a general audience of children and adults, with live demonstrations
and down-to-earth explanations about physics that is literally
out of this world.
William D. Phillips received his B.S. from Juniata College
(1970) and Ph.D. from MIT (1976). He joined NIST after
two years as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT. He is a NIST
Fellow and is a Distinguished professor of physics at
the University of Maryland.
Dr. Phillips is a fellow of the APS, OSA, AAAS, and member
of the NAS. He received the Department of Commerce Gold
Medal (1993), the Michelson Medal (1996), the APS Schawlow
Prize (1998), and was Appointed an Academician of the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences 2004. In 1997, Dr. Phillips
shared the Nobel Prize in Physics "for development
of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light."