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Chapman conference to honor physicist

Dr. Yakir Aharonov has received the National Medal of Science

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: July 12, 2012 03:35 PM

Next month, Chapman University will host a gathering of some of the world’s most noted physicists in honor of Dr. Yakir Aharonov, a professor in the university’s Schmid College of Science and Technology and School of Computational Sciences.

A professor of theoretical physics, Dr. Aharonov also holds the James J. Farley Professorship of Natural Philosophy. The August event is marking Aharonov’s recognition as the winner of the country’s top science award, the National Medal of Science.

The university will also mark the inauguration of the new Institute for Quantum Studies on Aug. 18. Dr. Aharanov will lead the new institute in collaboration with Chapman colleague and lifelong collaborator Dr. Jeff Tollaksen. In addition, an area of the Leatherby Libraries will be dedicated to housing Aharonov’s National Medal of Science, as well as his research documents and honors.

“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.”

Aharonov’s work is widely known in the field, and he is known for many fundamental discoveries in the field of physics. He lends his name to the Aharonov-Bohm effect, considered one of the cornerstones of modern physics, and which he co-authored with David Bohm, considered by Einstein as his “intellectual son.” The award accompanying the National Medal of Science recognizes Aharonov as “one of the most influential figures in modern physics.”

Dr. Tollaksen, the founding chair of Chapman’s Physics Department, said the conference aims to be a follow-up to the Solvay Conference in Physics, a gathering of history’s most famous luminaries, which recently marked its 100th anniversary. Attendees of the first Solvay Conference included Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Henri Poincaré and Ernest Rutherford.

“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.”

The Chapman conference will bring together some of the world’s most brilliant minds in the field of physics, including Francois Englert, one of the members of the team that announced the discovery of the Higgs boson July 4 at the European Council for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN. Other conference attendees include Sir Michael Berry, Ph.D., FRS; Paul Davies, Ph.D., Brian Greene, Ph.D., Nobel laureate David Gross, Ph.D., and Nobel laureate Sir Anthony Leggett, Ph.D., FRS.

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