The 2013 NAWCC Ward Francillon Time Symposium and Special Exhibition of Spectacular Clocks, Watches, and Sundials
by The Pre-Eminent Master
Thomas Tompion (1639–1713)

California Institute of Technology Pasadena, California

7-9 November 2013

William D. Phillips

Nobel Laureate, Laser Cooling and Trapping Group, National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S.A.)

Keynote Address:
“Time, Einstein, and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe”

  • Biography
  • Presentation
  • Further Information
  • William D. Phillips was born in 1948 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He received a B.S. in physics from Juniata College in 1970 and a Ph.D. from MIT in 1976. After two years as a Chaim Weizmann postdoctoral fellow at MIT, he joined the staff of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; then the National Bureau of Standards) in 1978. He is currently the leader of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group of NIST’s Physical Measurement Laboratory, and a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a cooperative research venture of NIST and the University of Maryland that is devoted to the study of quantum coherent phenomena. At the JQI he is the co-director of an NSF-funded Physics Frontier Center focusing on quantum phenomena that span different subfields of physics.

    The research group led by Phillips has been responsible for developing some of the main techniques now used for laser-cooling and cold-atom experiments in laboratories around the world. Today the group pursues research in laser cooling and trapping; the behavior of Bose-Einstein condensation; atom optics; collisions of ultra-cold atoms; cold, coherent atoms in optical lattices; quantum information processing; quantum simulation of calculationally intractable systems; and the study of cold-atom analogs to condensed matter.

    Phillips is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow and honorary member of the Optical Society of America and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 1997, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics “for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.”
    At the beginning of the 20th century Einstein changed the way we think about time. At the beginning of the 21st century Einstein’s thinking is shaping one of the key scientific and technological wonders of contemporary life: atomic clocks, the best timekeepers ever made. Such super-accurate clocks are essential to industry, commerce, and science; they are the heart of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which guides cars, airplanes, and hikers to their destinations. Today, atomic clocks are still being improved, using atoms cooled to incredibly low temperatures. Atomic gases reach temperatures less than a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. Super-cold atoms are at the heart of Primary Clocks accurate to better than a second in 100 million years. Such atoms also use, and allow tests of, some of Einstein’s strangest predictions. William Phillips will offer a lively, multimedia presentation, including experimental demonstrations and down-to-earth explanations about some of today’s most exciting science.