News Release
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    August 23, 2002      File #260
    Contact: Department of Physics and Astronomy, (707) 664-2119


International Physicists Tell "What Physicists Do" in Fall Lecture Series

Scientists from Austria, Brazil, China, England, Spain, Iran, and the U.S. will describe their work in this fallís "What Physicists Do" public lecture series at Sonoma State University.

Lectures will be on Mondays at 4 p.m., from Sept. 9 through Dec. 2, in room 108 Darwin Hall on the SSU campus.

All but one of the foreign-born speakers now work in the United States. The exception is Ferdinand Cap of the University of Innsbruck, who will come from Austria to open the series on Sept. 9. A distinguished plasma physicist, he will describe conversations he had over the years with some of the greatest of twentieth century physicists, including Erwin Schroedinger, Werner Heisenberg, and Wolfgang Pauli.

Kent Cullers, director of research and development of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, will speak Sept. 23 on "Extending the Senses." The first totally blind physicist to earn a Ph.D. in physics in the United States, Cullers was the inspiration for an astronomer in the film Contact.

Ka-Ngo Leung of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will discuss his teamís development of new compact neutron sources that are "small enough to descend into a borehole, provide neutrons for brain-cancer therapy, peer inside airport luggage, or perch on a laboratory bench."

Two speakers will discuss new technological developments at Sonoma State University. New faculty member Bryant Hichwa will describe the work he and his physics students will be doing with optical MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) for next generation switching devices, and Dean Saeid Rahimi will describe the eight new science and engineering laboratories which make up the Cerent Laboratories complex in recently-renovated Salazar Hall.

Other speakers will discuss using light to measure nanometer scale geometries, the next generation of radio telescopes, NASAís mission to seek extraterrestrial life, making movies of individual atoms and molecules, and measuring the size of subatomic collisions.

The series will conclude Dec. 2 with David Goldhaber-Gordon of Stanford University. The first recipient of an American Physical Society prize awarded biannually to an individual under age 30 for outstanding contribution to the knowledge of physics, Goldhaber will speak on "A Few Electrons in a Box."

SSU professor Joe Tenn, who is directing the series, expresses his gratitude to the donors who have made it possible to bring such distinguished speakers to SSU for the privately-funded series.

For a free poster describing all thirteen lectures, see, send e-mail to, or call (707) 664-2119.


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Last Modified: 08/23/2002