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Leading global physicists will gather at Chapman University to honor renowned physicist Yakir Aharonov

Chapman will mark occasion with conference, free public talk and launch of new Institute for Quantum Studies

Chapman University will honor its world-renowned physicist Yakir Aharonov, Ph.D., winner of the nation’s top science prize, the National Medal of Science, with a number of major events at Chapman’s campus in Orange:

  1. by inaugurating a new Institute for Quantum Studies headed by Yakir Aharonov and fellow Chapman physicist and lifelong collaborator, Jeff Tollaksen, Ph.D., on the evening of August 18;
  2. by hosting a conference (August 16-18) featuring 40 of the leading physicists from around the globe who are also members of the Institute, including several Nobel laureates and Francois Englert, Ph.D., co-discoverer of the Higgs boson, the particle announced by CERN on July 4 as “one of the biggest discoveries in particle physics in 40 years;”
  3. by dedicating an alcove in its Leatherby Libraries on the evening of August 18. The alcove will house Aharonov’s National Medal of Science and numerous historical items associated with his research and honors; and
  4. by publishing a research volume focused on numerous themes of Aharonov’s research.

Chapman is fortunate to launch an Institute for Quantum Studies that will consolidate global research interests around the foundational theoretical work of Yakir,” said Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., chancellor of Chapman University.“This will be a distinctive institute that will foster further development of quantum physics by the world’s leading experts – including several Nobel laureates – and establish an academic entity known internationally as a model for science education and research.”

While the conference is invitation-only, a popular session will be offered that the public can attend for free. This will include discussion of Aharonov’s work (e.g., the nature of time). It will take place on Thursday, August 16 at 5 p.m. at Chapman’s campus in Orange. Potential discussants include Aharonov, Englert, and other conference participants: Sir Michael Berry, Ph.D., FRS; Paul Davies, Ph.D., Francois Englert, Brian Greene, Ph.D., Nobel laureate David Gross, Ph.D., and Nobel laureate Sir Anthony Leggett, Ph.D., FRS. All of the sessions over the 3-day event will be webcast live at Quantum.Chapman.edu.

Chapman University

Chapman’s conference is a follow-up to the Solvay Conference in Physics, the world’s most famous physics conclave, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary,” said Jeff Tollaksen, co-director for Chapman’s Institute for Quantum Studies, Founding Chair, Department of Physics, Computational Science and Engineering. “Many members of Chapman’s Institute and conference have also attended the Solvay Conferences in Brussels, Belgium, including Solvay Conference organizer, Nobelist David Gross. These participants have been responsible for much of the history of physics. (At left is a picture of the first Solvay with attending luminaries such as Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Henri Poincaré and Ernest Rutherford.).”

“Solvay was the central conference spearheading the development of quantum mechanics which governs the micro-world of atoms and particles,” Tollaksen continued. “It is the most successful scientific theory in history and has led to more than half of the US gross domestic product, such as electronics, computers, lasers, and numerous other technologies. While theoretical physics has been a pivotal part of some of the biggest societal impacts at the lowest costs, quantum physics has famously defied intuition. Chapman’s programs seek to change that.”

Aharonov is widely known for many monumental fundamental discoveries. For example, the presidential citation accompanying Aharonov’s National Medal of Science recognizes him for “his work in quantum physics which ranges from the Aharonov-Bohm effect to the notion of weak measurement, making him one of the most influential figures in modern physics.” The Aharonov-Bohm effect – one of the cornerstones of modern physics – was co-authored with David Bohm, whom Einstein regarded as his “intellectual son.”

And the second discovery, also mentioned by President Obama in the National Medal presentation, led to the number 1 and number 2 top physicsbreakthroughs for all of 2011 across all physics disciplines, according to both the Institute for Physics and the American Physical Society. Further, Thomson-Reuters not long ago conducted a worldwide poll of scientists, in which Aharonov, along with Institute member and conference attendee Berry, were voted #1 most likely to win a Nobel Prize in physics in coming years.

Chapman has been laying the groundwork for establishing an expanded curriculum in the sciences since 2006. An internationally respected team of physicists was hired in 2008 to further advance Chapman’s critical research and education in the sciences, building expertise in Earth and environmental sciences, health and life sciences, and computational sciences. Chapman’s B.S. degree in physics and computational science was also recently introduced, as was a Ph.D. in computational science.

For more information and a live webcast of the events, visit Quantum.Chapman.edu.

Consistently ranked among the top universities in the West, Chapman University provides a uniquely personalized and interdisciplinary educational experience to highly qualified students. Our programs encourage innovation, creativity and collaboration, and focus on developing global citizen-leaders who are distinctively prepared to improve their community and their world. For more information, visit Chapman.edu.

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Press release provided by Chapman University on Aug 8, 2012

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