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    Monday, November 11, 2019, at 7:15 p.m.
    Sundin Music Hall, 1531 Hewitt Avenue, Saint Paul

    A Random Walk through Physics to the Nobel Prize

    2019 Kay Malmstrom Lecture in Physics
    Guest Lecturer
    J. Michael Kosterlitz
    Harrison E. Farnsworth Professor of Physics
    Brown University
    2016 Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics

    This talk is the story of Professor Kosterlitz’s random walk through physics—via Cambridge, Oxford, Turin, and Birmingham—while finishing up at Brown University. He describes his very crooked path through life, including both physics and mountaineering, as well as a summary of his prize-winning work: topological defects and phase transitions in two dimensions. Matter occurs with different phase transitions, for example, when ice turns to water or water turns to steam. In extremely low temperatures, unusual phases may occur, such as electric current flows without resistance (superconductivity) and fluid flows without resistance (superfluidity). In the early 1970s, Kosterlitz and David Thouless introduced the concept of a vortex as a topological excitation or defect to describe phase transitions (i.e., superconductivity and superfluidity) in thin layers at low temperatures. This work may pave the way for future quantum computers and other revolutionary technologies.

    About Michael Kosterlitz, PhD

    Professor Kosterlitz received his BA and MA from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He earned a D.Phil. from Oxford University as a postgraduate student of Brasenose College, Oxford. He was appointed to the faculty of the University of Birmingham in 1974, first as a lecturer and, later, as a reader. Since 1982, he has been professor of physics at Brown University. Kosterlitz does research in condensed matter theory, one- and two-dimensional physics, and phase transitions; random systems, electron localization, and spin glasses; and in critical dynamics: melting and freezing. He has been awarded the Maxwell Medal from the British Institute of Physics and the Lars Onsager Prize from the American Physical Society, both for his work on the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition. He was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016, shared with David Thouless and Duncan Haldane, for work on the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition. In 2017, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • About the Malmstrom Lectures in Physics

    The Kay Malmstrom Lecture in Physics, part of the Emma K. and Carl R. N. Malstrom Chair in Physics, is an annual symposium on contemporary issues and research in physics. Through this generous gift, Carl R. N. Malmstrom ’36 gives Hamline students access to the outstanding scientific minds of our time. Even after his death in 2010, Carl’s legacy of supporting Hamline students continues to fund collaborative research opportunities, scholarships, and this lecture.

  • Past Lectures


    "Mixed-Dimensional van der Waals Heterostructures for Electronic and Energy Applications" Dr. Mark C. Hersam, Northwestern University


    "What Can We Do with a Quantum Liquid?" Dr. Anthony J. Leggett, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003 Nobel Laureate for work on superfluidity


    "Soft Electronics for the Human Body" Dr. John A. Rogers, Northwestern University


    "More Than Moore: When Electronics Drive off the Roadmap." Dr. Mark A. Reed, Yale University


    "Relativity, Quantum Physics, and Graphene." Philip Kim, Harvard University


    "Innovating Your Own Future." Roger H. Appeldorn, 3M


    "When Freezing Cold is Not Cold Enough: New Forms of Matter Close to Absolute Zero Temperature." Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle, MIT, 2001 Nobel Laureate for research on Bose-Einstein condensation


    Spring: "Exploring the Warped Side of the Universe." Dr. Nergis Malvalvala, MIT


    Fall: "E=mc^2: Opening Windows on the World." Dr. Young-Kee Kim, University of Chicago


    "Neutrino Astronomy at the South Pole." Dr. Jordan Goodman, University of Maryland


    "Superposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger’s Cat" Dr. David Wineland, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2012 Nobel Laureate for developing research methods for measuring and manipulating individual quantum systems



    "How to Make Atoms Sing and Molecules Dance-Using Fast Light Pulses to Observe and Control Nature" Dr. Margaret Murname, University of Colorado at Boulder


    "Modern Cosmology & Superstring Theory: Can They Co-Exist?" Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr., University of Maryland



    "Stopping Time" Dr. Eric Mazur, Harvard University


    Malstrom Lecture - 2005 Dr. Ramon Lopez, Florida Institute of Technology


    "Stone Cold Science" Dr. Eric Cornell, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2001 Nobel Laureate for collaborative work involving Bose-Einstein Condensate.



    "Our Preposterous Universe" Dr. Sean Carroll, California Institute of Technology


    "Sunlight and Ice Crystals in the Skies of Antarctica" Dr. Robert Greenler, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee



    "The Physics of Star Trek" Dr. Lawrence Krauss, Case Western Reserve University


    "Almost Absolute Zero: The Story of Laser Cooling and Trapping." Dr. William D. Phillips, National Institute of Standards and Technology. 1997 Nobel Laureate for collaborative work involving the cooling and trapping of atoms with lasers.


    "Space Astronomy in the 21st Century" Dr. John C. Mather, Nasa Goddard Lab for Astronomy and Solar Physics. 2006 Nobel Laureate for collaborative discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.



    "Voodoo Science" Dr. Robert Park, University of Maryland, author of the controversial weekly commentary, What's New, on science policy issues.


    "Quark-The Big And Small Of It" Dr. Melissa Franklin. Harvard University, The Top Quark.


    "So Many Galaxies... So Little Time" Dr. Margaret Geller Harvard University, Astronomer, recipient the MacArthur Fellowship.


    "The Quark And The Jaguar" Dr. Murray Gell-Mann, California Institute of Technology, 1969 Nobel Laureate for classifying the elementary particles.


    "Science And The Human Condition" Dr. Daniel Kleppner MIT, quantum optics, and experimental atomic physics.


    "Rumors of Perfection: New Ideas About Cosmic Evolution" Timothy Ferris, University of California-Berkeley, Science writer and essayist, wrote and narrated the the PBS special "The Creation of the Universe."



    "The Cosmic Quark" Dr. Leon Lederman, University of Chicago, 1988 Nobel Laureate for collaborative work that led to development of a new tool for studying the weak nuclear force.


    (Dedication of Robbins Science Building.) Dr. Arno A. Penzias, Bell Labs, 1978 Nobel Laureate with Robert K. Wilson for discovering the cosmic background radiation.