Beauty and Elegance in Physics Discussed by Nobel Laureate

Oct 13, 2009

        Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, Ph.D., will discuss why beauty and elegance are successful criteria for choosing fundamental physical theory at the annual Harry Mullin, M.D., Lecture at The University of Scranton on Oct. 15. The lecture, presented free of charge and open to the public, begins at 8 p.m. in the Houlihan-McLean Center.
        Gell-Mann, who earned the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969 for his work on the theory of elementary particles, is regarded by some as "the most clever man in the world." He has made profound contributions to science. He is perhaps best know for his "Eightfold Way," a theory of organizing dozens of subatomic particles in collisions that involve atomic nuclei. Key to this research was Gell-Mann's discovery that these particles are made up of quarks. Later, he collaborated with colleagues to build the quantum field theory of quarks and gluons known as quantum chromodynamics.

        In addition to his work in the lab, Gell-Mann authored The Quark and the Jaguar, which was published in 1994 and explains the ties between elementary nature and several complex adaptive systems.

        These systems are the focus of his current work, which incorporates a wide range of topics, including archeology, natural history, linguistics and more. Gell-Mann, a Distinguished Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute and the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology (CIT), is leading the Evolution of Human Languages Program at the Santa Fe Institute.

        This year's Mullin Lecture will be broadcast at a later date by WVIA-TV, the local National Public Broadcast affiliate.

        The Mullin Lecture series, which has brought to Scranton some of the world's most distinguished scholars and scientists, including more than a dozen Nobel laureates, honors the late Dr. Harry Mullin, who earned his bachelor's degree from the University, then St. Thomas College, in 1931. He dedicated a lifetime of service to his profession and the Scranton community. The series is sponsored by his wife, Ethel Mullin, his son, Brian Mullin, M.D., '66, and Robbin Mullin.
        For additional information about the lecture, call 941-5873.


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