Provost Lecture celebrating CST 20th Anniversary

Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe

Thursday, November 1 at 2PM

Science Education and Research Center 

At the beginning of the 20th century, Einstein changed the way we think about time. Now, early in the 21st century, the measurement of time is being revolutionized by the ability to cool a gas of atoms to temperatures millions of times lower than any naturally occurring temperature in the universe. Super-cold atoms, with temperatures that can be below a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, use, and allow tests of, some of Einstein’s strangest predictions.


JoAnne A. Epps
Executive Vice President and Provost

Michael L. Klein, FRS
Dean and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Science
College of Science and Technology

Nobel Laureate William Daniel Phillips, PhD
Distinguished University Professor
University of Maryland

William Phillips earned a BS in physics from Juniata College and a PhD from MIT. After two years as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, he joined  the staff of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He is currently leader of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group in the Quantum Measurement Division of NIST’s Physical Measurement Laboratory, and a Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland.

He is a Fellow of Maryland’s Joint Quantum Institute which is devoted to the study of quantum coherent phenomena. The NIST research group led by Phillips is responsible for developing some of the main techniques used for laser-cooling and cold-atom experiments in laboratories around the world.

In 1988, the NIST group discovered that laser cooling could reach temperatures much lower than had been predicted by theory, a result that led to a new understanding of laser cooling and contributed to many of the subsequent developments in cold atomic gases. Phillips is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of the Gold Medal of the U. S. Department of Commerce and the Schawlow Prize of the American Physical Society.

In 1997, Phillips shared the Nobel Prize in Physics “for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.”