sealPurdue News

March 27, 2003

Physicist to explain 'physics for everyone'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Cosmologist Edward W. "Rocky" Kolb will deliver the 2003 Hubert and Madeline James Lecture on April 10 at Purdue University.

Kolb, who has joint appointments at the University of Chicago and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., will speak at 4 p.m. in Fowler Hall. His talk, entitled "The Quantum and the Cosmos," will be a general introduction to current ideas on the formation and composition of the universe.

"Rocky has a very engaging stage personality," said John Finley, associate head of the physics department in Purdue's School of Science. "This lecture is a rare opportunity to learn about the cosmos from a man who is both a distinguished scientist and a gifted speaker. He has great talent at explaining difficult ideas in terms everyone can understand."

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Preceding the lecture at 3 p.m., there will be a reception for Kolb in Physics Building, Room 242. Kolb also will be available after the lecture to answer additional questions.

While numerous complex theories exist to explain the universe's nature and origins, Kolb will put many of them into perspective for the audience. Among the topics he will touch upon are dark matter, a yet-unobserved substance which is believed to account for most of the universe's mass; the quest for the Higgs boson, an elusive particle thought to give mass to all matter; and the latest methods physicists are using to learn more about the cosmos.

Kolb is a member of the NASA/Fermilab Astrophysics Group at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he served for 10 years as the first head of astrophysics. He also is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago. He is co-author of "The Early Universe," a textbook on particle physics and cosmology. His book for the general public, "Blind Watchers of the Sky," tells of the people and ideas that shaped our view of the universe.

Hubert Maxwell James (1908-1986) served as a member of the Purdue physics faculty from 1936 to 1974, when he retired as emeritus professor. He held degrees from Randolph-Macon College and Harvard University and attained the rank of full professor at Purdue in 1944. During World War II, James was part of the group of scientists and engineers that formed the MIT radiation laboratory, during which time he made important contributions to the development of radar. After the war he made landmark contributions to semiconductor research and served as department head from 1958 until 1966.

CONTACT: John Finley, (765) 494-5048,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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