April 25, 2019  

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Noble Laureate in Physics to Give Rayborn Lecture at USM March 2

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Dr. William Phillips

The most recent transformations in how we understand the concept of time will not only be discussed, but demonstrated by a Nobel Laureate in Physics when Dr. William Phillips gives the second Rayborn Lecture in Physics at The University of Southern Mississippi Thursday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium. 
Dr. Phillips’s presentation is titled “Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe.” Admission to this event is free and the public is invited. The lecture series was founded through a gift from former Southern Miss Professor of Physics and Astronomy Dr. Grayson H. Rayborn and his wife, Jane.

A physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and a leader of the NIST Laser Cooling and Trapping Group, Dr. Phillips is famed for his ability to communicate about revolutionary advances in science through down-to-earth language and intriguing multi-media demonstrations.

“Dr. Phillips is internationally renowned for his Nobel Prize-winning research, but he also has a passion for communicating physics to the public,” said Dr. Chris Winstead, chairman of the USM Department of Physics and Astronomy. “He isn’t going to just talk about physics, he’s going to demonstrate physics. He is planning a number of demonstrations to illustrate the impact of very cold temperatures on everyday materials.

“Opportunities to attend a presentation by a Nobel Laureate are rare, but opportunities to see a Nobel Laureate do live demonstrations come once in a lifetime.” 

Dr. Phillips shared in the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics in recognition of his revolutionary research in atom trapping and cooling. His work has enabled investigations of atomic structure at unprecedented precision, and served as the foundation for other Nobel Prize-winning research. His work also has real-world applications that impact our everyday lives. 

In his own research, he’s developed methods to achieve record-breaking cold temperatures, work that later led to the observation of a form of matter predicted by Einstein, but observed only recently. 

“The GPS systems that we all use are based on unbelievably accurate atomic clocks,” Winstead said. “Dr. Phillips’ work has spurred new developments in ultraprecision time-keeping devices that form the basis for these systems.”

“It is an incredible honor to have the opportunity to meet Dr. Phillips,” said senior physics major Andrew Giovengo of Carriere, Miss. “For scientists, meeting a Nobel laureate is the equivalent of meeting a rock star. I know many students who are excited not only for the lecture, but to meet Dr. Phillips. Experiences such as this one are life-changing and need to be appreciated.”

For more information about this event, contact the Southern Miss Department of Physics and Astronomy at 601.266.4934; learn more about the department by visiting https://www.usm.edu/physics.