April 2005, Ferdinand G. Brickwedde Lectures In Physics

The Emergent Age

Tuesday, April 5, 2005
4:00 p.m.

The Johns Hopkins University
Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy
Schafler Auditorium, Bloomberg Center


Presented by:

Robert B. Laughlin

1998 Nobel Laureate in Physics
President of Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Robert M. and Anne Bass Professor of Physics, Stanford University


Robert B. Laughlin, the president of KAIST and Robert M. and Anne Bass Professor of Physics at Stanford University, will deliver the 2004-05 Brickwedde Lecture in Physics and Astronomy on April 5. Following the Brickwedde tradition, Prof. Laughlin will be departmental colloquium speaker on Thursday, April 7. His topic: "Quantum Criticality and Black Holes".

Laughlin is one of the world's leading theoretical physicists and a frequent speaker and essayist on public dimensions of science. His visit to Hopkins comes in the midst of the East Coast tour introducing his new book "A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down". From the book's description: "...Not since Richard Feynman has a Nobel Prize-winning physicist written with as much panache as Robert Laughlin does in this revelatory and essential book. Laughlin proposes nothing less than a new way of understanding fundamental laws of science. In this age of superstring theories and Big-Bang cosmology, we're used to thinking of the unknown as being impossibly distant from our everyday lives. The edges of science, we're told, lie in the first nanofraction of a second of the Universe's existence, or else in realms so small that they can't be glimpsed even by the most sophisticated experimental techniques. But we haven't reached the end of science, Laughlin argues-only the end of reductionist thinking. If we consider the world of emergent properties instead, suddenly the deepest mysteries are as close as the nearest ice cube or grain of salt. And he goes farther: the most fundamental laws of physics-such as Newton's laws of motion and quantum mechanics -are in fact emergent. They are properties of large assemblages of matter, and when their exactness is examined too closely, it vanishes into nothing...". Click on Prof. Laughlin web page for additional details on his scientific and popular works.

Laughlin won 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory of the fractional quantum Hall effect. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He lives in Palo Alto, California.

The Brickwedde lectures were established in 1981 and are funded by an endowment provided by one of our alumni, Professor Ferdinand G. Brickwedde (B.A. '22, M.A. '24, Ph.D. '25), and his wife, Langhorne Howard Brickwedde. Professor Brickwedde has had a distinguished research and academic career. He was a co-discoverer of deuterium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen. He was long associated with the National Bureau of Standards and was dean of the College of Chemistry and Physics at Pennsylvania State University from 1956 to 1963.

Each academic year, at least one outstanding individual is invited for a three-day period. During this time, the visitor delivers a public address and the weekly departmental colloquium, the latter being geared to the scientific community. At other times, visitors are invited for shorter or longer periods to give a colloquium, teach and/or conduct specialized seminars. As stipulated by the Brickweddes, the visitors are asked to spend generous amounts of time with students. Informal discussions and social activities are arranged so that all students have the opportunity to have close contact with our guests.


Please click here for more information on the Brickwedde Lectures