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What Makes Einstein So Smart?

Nov. 10, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University continues to 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 this month by one of the nation's premier physicists.

"What Makes Einstein So Smart?" is the topic of a lecture set for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, in Room 1104 of Rood Hall. The talk, intended for a general audience, will be delivered by Dr. Timothy Gay, professor of physics at the University of Nebraska, who is well known for engaging in what he calls "physics propaganda" to interest lay audiences in the discipline.

Gay's research interests center on the scattering of electrons by atomic and molecular targets and elementary particle physics. He is more popularly known, however, for exploring the physics of football, which resulted in filmed lessons for Nebraska Cornhusker fans as well as an NFL series of short television spots and his 2004 book, "Football Physics-The Science of the Game."

More recently, Gay attracted attention through his regular appearances on the NBC reality show "Tommy Lee Goes to College," in which he acted as Tommy Lee's physics instructor and academic advisor.

Gay earned a bachelor's degree in 1975 from the California Institute of Technology, where he played football on a notoriously unsuccessful team. He earned a doctoral degree from the University of Chicago in 1980. He was a research physicist and lecturer at Yale University and a faculty member at the University of Missouri-Rolla before joining the University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty in 1993.

During his career, Gay has been the lead researcher on more than $5million in grants, and he has published more than 60 articles in the refereed scientific literature. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the chair-elect of its Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics.

Gay's lecture is the second by a leading physicist delivered at WMU this year in celebration of the World Year of Physics 2005. The year 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.

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

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