Schedule Apr 3, 2002
The World's Numerical Recipe
Dr. Frank Wilczek, MIT

We can cook up a superb model of ordinary matter (allowing a very liberal definition of "ordinary") using four numerical parameters as ingredients. A passable model needs only two. After adding another two ingredients, for six total, we can serve up astrophysics. Five might do in a pinch. I'll describe the ingredients, and show you the recipe.

Frank Wilczek is considered one of the world's most eminent theoretical physicists. He is known, among other things, for the discovery of asymptotic freedom, the development of quantum chromodynamics, the invention of axions, and the discovery and exploitation of new forms of quantum statistics (anyons). When only 21 years old and a graduate student at Princeton University, he and David Gross defined the properties of gluons, which hold atomic nuclei together.

Frank Wilczek received his B.S. degree from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He taught at Princeton from 1974 to 1981. During the period 1981 to 1988, he was the first permanent member of the National Science Foundation's Institute for Theoretical Physics. In the fall of 2000, he moved from the Institute for Advanced Study, where he was the J.R. Oppenheimer Professor, to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics. He has been Visiting Professor at Harvard (1987- 88), and Lorentz Professor at Leiden (1998). He has also been a Sloan Foundation Fellow (1975-77) and a MacArthurFoundation Fellow (1982-87). He has received UNESCO's Dirac Medal and the American Physical Society's Sakurai Prize for his contributions to the development of theoretical physics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Netherlands Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a Trustee of the University of Chicago. He contributes regularly to Physics Today and to Nature, explaining topics at the frontiers of physics to wider scientific audiences.

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