Montana State University

Lecture on frontiers of physics to be given Dec. 8 at Museum of the Rockies

November 17, 2011 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN -- A free public lecture about the frontiers of physics will be given on Thursday, Dec. 8, in the Hager Auditorium at Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies.

S. James Gates Jr., the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, will present "The Mathematical Melodies of Reality" at 7 p.m. A reception will follow in the museum lobby.

Gates will relate the frontiers of physics -- from the enormity of the universe to the considerations of the tiniest bit of matter and energy -- to the idea of unification in physical theories. Gates argues that nature may be closer to the science fiction movie, "The Matrix," than expected.

In addition to his lecture, Gates will speak on "Drilling Where the Wood is Thick" at a physics colloquium to be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in room 103 of the EPS Building. The title refers to Einstein's comment that, "I have little patience with scientists who take a board of wood, look for its thinnest part and drill a great number of holes where drilling is easy." Gates, in this colloquium, will discuss a problem in theoretical physics that has not been solved in more than 30 years. The colloquium is free and open to the public.

In 2009, Gates was selected as a member of the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a team of 20 of the country's leading scientists and engineers who advise President Obama on policy issues related to science, technology and innovation. Earlier this year, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, most recently, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in the United Kingdom. This month, Gates will be one of the scientists appearing in the weekly NOVA/PBS television presentation, ''The Fabric of the Cosmos,'' hosted by Brian Greene. He is director of the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland.

"Dr. Gates is one of the deepest and most creative thinkers in the world," said Nicolas Yunes, assistant professor in MSU's Department of Physics. "I am incredibly fortunate to have worked with him and learned much in the process. He is an amazing mentor and an outstanding speaker. This is a unique opportunity to listen to one of the greatest physicists of our time."

MSU's Department of Physics, the College of Letters and Sciences and the Museum of the Rockies are sponsoring this lecture.

For more information, contact Nico Yunes at nyunes@physics.montana.edu.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu