WMU News

Laser advances topic of 'Year of Physics' public lecture

Oct. 5, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University will help the area celebrate the 2005 World Year of Physics and the centennial of some of Albert Einstein's most important contributions with a public lecture by one of the nation's premier physicists.

"Can We Make Atoms Sing and Molecules Dance? Using Fast Laser Pulses to Observe and Control Nature" is the topic of a lecture set for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, in Room 1104 of Rood Hall. The talk, intended for a general audience, will be delivered by Dr. Margaret Mary Murnane of the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The World Year of Physics 2005 is a United Nations endorsed, international celebration of physics. Events throughout the year will highlight the vitality of physics and its importance in the coming millennium, and will commemorate the pioneering contributions of Albert Einstein in 1905. The year 2005 marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's "miraculous year" in which he published three important papers describing ideas that have since influenced all of modern physics. A worldwide collaboration of scientific societies is using the World Year of Physics to bring the excitement of physics to the public and inspire a new generation of scientists.

Murnane's topic--laser light--dates back to 1916, when Einstein developed an improved fundamental theory of heat. His theory is at the heart of the modern laser, which is used in high-resolution microscopes, in surgery, in telecommunications and even for nuclear fusion. At the end of the 20th century, fast laser pulse technology emerged as a new, more controlled and precise tool.

Murnane, a past recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, is a member of the faculty of the University of Colorado's Department of Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering and a fellow of JILA, one of the nation's leading research institutes in the physical sciences, which is based at CU-Boulder. She earned a bachelor's degree from University College in Cork, Ireland, and her doctoral degree from the University of California-Berkeley. She taught at Washington State University and the University of Michigan before moving to her current post in 1999.

She is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A staunch advocate of increased diversity in the discipline of physics, Murnane also is a member of the American Physical Society's Committee on the Status of Women in Physics.

For more information about the 2005 World Year of Physics, visit www.physics2005.org.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400