Miller-Breit Lectures 2005

September 1, 2005

The Yale Physics Miller-Breit Lectures were given April 12th and 13, 2005 by Professor Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate and the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Monday, September 12, 2005 - the Origin of Mass and the Feebleness of Gravity

Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 asserts that energy and mass are different aspects of the same reality. In the mind of the general public, it is usually associated with the idea that small amounts of mass can be converted into large amounts of energy, as in nuclear reactors and bombs. For fundamental physics, however, the more important idea is just the opposite. We want to explain how mass itself arises, by explaining it in terms of more basic concepts. An important part of my work has been to show that this goal can, to a remarkable extent, be achieved. I’ll discuss how – it’s quite beautiful! I’ll also discuss some of the consequences – suggestions for new physical phenomena, and an explanation of why gravity is so feeble.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - The Universe is a Strange Place [Lecture for General Audience]

Over the course of the twentieth century we have constructed a very successful fundamental theory of the behavior of matter. Viewed from this perspective, the world looks very different from our everyday reality. It is a very strange place, and a beautiful one – in particular, we’ve come to understand that the building blocks of matter appear as notes in a Music of the Void. I’ll describe this using a combination of facts, pictures, and jokes. Finally I’ll discuss some recent discoveries indicating that the world is even stranger than we’ve understood so far, and how we’re rising to the challenge.

The Miller-Breit Memorial Lecture was established in honor of John Milton Miller (B.A. 1904, M.A. 1907, Ph.D. 1915) and Gregory Breit (Yale faculty 1947-1968) in order to bring a distinguished lecturer in physics to Yale each year. The Miller lectures ran 1966-1992 and the Breit lectures started in 1982 and included the Gregory Breit Centennial Symposium in 1999. The two funds were combined in 1986.

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