Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Carl E. Wieman: Nobel Laureate Lecture Series III

On Tuesday, May 24, at 2:00 p.m., at Inchon Memorial Hall, Carl E. Wieman will deliver the third lecture in Korea University's Nobel Laureate Lecture Series.

For those interested in finding out more about Professor Wieman, see the Nobel Prize site on the physics prize for 2001. Read his autobiography and compare it to the autobiography of Daniel L. McFadden, co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for 2000. Both have unusual childhoods. This from Wieman's autobiography:

"Much of my youth was spent wandering around in the forests of towering Douglas fir trees. I also spend much of my time reading and picking fruit and fir cones to earn spending money. Every Saturday my family would make a long expedition to the nearest town to do the week's worth of shopping. A stop at the public library was always part of these trips. Although I was unaware of it at the time, my parents must have made special arrangements for their children to use the library since we lived far outside the region it was supposed to serve. The librarians would also overlook the normal five-book limit and allow me to check out a large pile of books each week that I would then eagerly devour. That experience has left me with a profound appreciation for the value of public libraries. At the time I was quite envious that my friends had televisions while we did not, but in retrospect I am very grateful that I spent this time reading instead of watching TV."

Compare to this from McFadden's autobiography:

"My parents met in 1929 when my mother was teaching for a semester at the University of North Carolina. In 1936, she left university life in Cincinnati and married my father. They settled on a remote farm in rural North Carolina, and led an unconventional life, with no electricity or running water and little money. My father was a great collector and reader of books, and I grew up surrounded by his library. My mother became a high school mathematics teacher. Most of our food was grown on the farm. Neighbors were remote, and reading was the primary recreation. I grew up planning to become a farm agent, or a novelist in the florid style of Thomas Wolfe. I was active in 4-H, winning a state championship for my soil conservation projects, and blue ribbons for my sheep and geese. I milked three to five cows each day, and we sold butter, cottage cheese, peanuts, corn, and hay. My parents taught me that to lead a virtuous life, I should be modest, take my satisfaction from work done well, and avoid being drawn into competition for status and rewards."

Both men seem to have had childhoods that set them apart from the typical American, which -- I'm guessing -- may have led them to be more independent in their thinking.

I intend to read more on Wieman and blog again. Meanwhile, here are some websites to check out on Wieman, his Nobel and other colleagues, and their work on Bose-Einstein Condensation:

See Wieman's Curriculum Vitae at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

See this related website on Bose-Einstein Condensation, for which, Wieman and fellow prize winners Eric A. Cornell and Wolfgang Ketterle won their 2001 Nobel Prize.

Another website provides further information: JILA BEC Homepage (Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics Bose-Einstein Condensation Homepage).

Interestingly, this BEC work is connected with the Laser Cooling work of Steven Chu, who (you'll recall) gave the second presentation in Korea University's Nobel Laureate Lecture Series.


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