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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)April 4, 2001

(Mahwah) — William D. Phillips, a Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology who was awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, will give a public lecture at Ramapo College of New Jersey Wednesday, April 25 at 4 p.m. in the Sharp Theater. The lecture, “Absolute Zero: The Story of Laser Cooling and Trapping,” is an updated version of the Nobel Lecture given in Stockholm on December 8, 1997. It is aimed at a general audience of non-scientists, but discusses some of the newest and most exciting developments in physics.

“Contrary to intuition, we can cool down a gas by shining a laser on it,” explains Phillips. His lecture will describe how laser cooling works, and why it works better than anyone expected it to. “We can now cool a gas of atoms to less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero — the coldest temperatures in the universe,” Phillips continues. “Atoms this cold exhibit weird and wonderful properties and are being used for applications ranging from super-accurate atomic clocks to new quantum devices like atom lasers.”

Phillips is internationally known for advancing basic knowledge and new techniques to chill atoms to extremely low temperatures. The cooling and trapping of atoms, a discipline that emerged in the mid-1970s with the advent of laboratory lasers, has allowed scientists to observe and measure quantum phenomena in atoms that seem to defy the physical principles governing our tangible room-temperature realm.

Phillips, who was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and was raised in Camp Hill, Pa., graduated from Juniata College summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He earned his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. He is currently a National Institute of Standards and Technology fellow and leader of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group in the Atomic Physics Division of NIST’s Physics Laboratory. He resides in Gaithersburg, Md.

The lecture is in conjunction with a retirement celebration for Dr. Teodoro Halpern, a physics professor at Ramapo College for more than 25 years. Phillips was a student of Halpern’s at Argonne National Labs.

The Sharp Theater is located in the Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts on the Ramapo College campus.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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