Research News

Physics Nobel laureate to speak on quarks at Vanderbilt

Nobel laureate Jerome Friedman will describe the long and controversial debate about quarks – the smaller particles that make up protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus – during the annual Francis G. Slack Lecture on Friday, March 16.

Friedman, Institute Professor and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speaks at 4 p.m. in Room 4327 of the Stevenson Center on the Vanderbilt campus. A reception will precede the lecture at 3:30 p.m. in Room 6333 of the Stevenson Center.

The lecture – “Are We Really Made of Quarks?” – and reception are free and open to the public.

Friedman, the 1990 Nobel Prize laureate in physics, will describe the drawn-out period of debate that followed the initial proposal that the protons and neutrons found in the atomic nucleus are actually made of even smaller particles called quarks, and how this led to the eventual acceptance of this radically new concept of the structure of matter. He will explain why it took physicists considerably more than a decade and inescapable experimental evidence before the physics community fully accepted the idea. He also will discuss the impact that the quark model has on our basic concept of matter.

The annual Francis G. Slack Lecture was established in 1977 to honor Slack, who taught physics at Vanderbilt from 1928 to 1951. He was the first physicist at Vanderbilt to put equal emphasis on teaching and research at a national-international level.

Also on March 15, Friedman will give a scientific lecture at 4 p.m. in Stevenson Center, Room 4327, titled “New Horizons in Particle Physics.”

Media contact: David F. Salisbury, (615) 343-6803