2011 Ford Distinguished Lecturer
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
4:15 P.M. Lecture
Dr. William D. Phillips
Atomic Physics Division, Physics Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Time, Einstein, and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe
1800 Chemistry Auditorium
At the beginning of the 20th century Einstein changed the way we think about Time. 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. Super-cold atoms are at the heart of Primary Clocks accurate to better than a second in 100 million years. Such atoms also use, and allow tests of, some of Einstein's strangest predictions.
This was a lively, multimedia presentation, including experimental demonstrations and down-to-earth explanations about some of today's most exciting science.