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U Celebrates World Year of Physics

Jan. 19, 2005 – One hundred years after Albert Einstein’s major discoveries, physicists and the United Nations are observing 2005 as the World Year of Physics. The University of Utah will celebrate with lectures, exhibits, tours, a film festival, observatory star parties and an Einstein look-alike contest.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to showcase the great advances in physics over the last 100 years – and have some fun at the same time,” says Craig Taylor, a distinguished professor of physics in charge of organizing World Year of Physics events at the University of Utah.

Pierre Sokolsky, professor and chair of physics, added: “This is the centennial of what is called Einstein’s miracle year. The reason it’s important is that he published three papers in 1905. Those three papers laid the foundation for modern technology: the whole digital era of electronics and computers, modern optics, lasers, photoelectric cells, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and, in the third paper, relativity and our understanding of the universe. That’s why we’re celebrating.”

The U’s events kick off Saturday Jan. 22 with the opening screenings of the Physics Film Festival, and continue Feb. 2 and 3 with a series of lectures by Mildred S. Dresselhaus, a professor of physics and electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All events are open to the public free of charge. A complete list of all events and activities is below.


  • 7:30 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 2, Aline Wilmot Skaggs Biology Bldg. Auditorium: “Addressing Grand Energy Challenges through Advanced Materials.” MIT physicist Mildred Dresselhaus will review long-term energy challenges to our society and how nanoscience and nanotechnology – science and technology on the microscopic scale of billionths of a meter – offer new promise in developing a sustainable energy supply for the 21st century and beyond.
  • Noon Thursday Feb. 3, Marriott Library’s Gould Auditorium: MIT physicist Mildred Dresselhaus will conduct a “Mentoring Session: Increasing Opportunities for Women in Science,” followed at 2 p.m. by a one-hour reception in the Women’s Resource Center, room 293 Olpin Union Bldg.
  • 4 p.m. Thursday Feb. 3, 101 James Fletcher Bldg.: MIT physicist Mildred Dresselhaus will deliver a Department of Physics colloquium, “Recent Advances in the Photophysics of Carbon Nanotubes.” This is a technical lecture.
  • Time and location to be announced, Tuesday Aug. 9: Nobel Laureate Horst Stormer of Columbia University and Lucent Technologies’ Bell Labs will lecture on “Small Wonders: The World of Nanoscience.” This lecture is in conjunction with the American Association of Physics Teachers’ annual summer meeting in Salt Lake City.
  • Time to be announced, Tuesday Aug. 9, Kingsbury Hall: Free Physics Demonstration Show by the Physics Instructional Resource Association, including Zigmund Peacock of the University of Utah. This demonstration is in conjunction with the American Association of Physics Teachers’ annual summer meeting in Salt Lake City.
  • Time and date to be announced, but in mid-December, Kingsbury Hall: “An Evening with Einstein,” featuring talks and demonstrations by University of Utah physicists Benjamin Bromley on “Space, Time and the Expanding Universe,” and Orest Symko on “Quest for Energy Using Heat and Sound.”

Physics Film Festival

Admission is free. All screenings will be in the Olpin Union Bldg. theater. Each screening includes one documentary and one work of fiction. The April 23 screening will include an Einstein Look-Alike Contest, with a prize awarded for the best costume:

  • 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday Jan. 22: “Race for the Superbomb” and “Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”
  • 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday Feb. 19: “Origins” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
  • 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday March 19: “Time Travel” and “Back to the Future.”
  • 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday April 23: “Einstein Revealed,” followed by an Einstein Look-Alike Contest and then the film “Real Genius.”
  • 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday Sept. 17: “Elegant Universe (Part 1)” and “The Empire Strikes Back.”
  • 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday Oct. 22: “Elegant Universe (Part 2)” and “Contact.”
  • 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday Nov. 19: “Countdown to the Invisible Universe” and “Gattaca.”
  • 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday Dec. 17: “The Best Mind Since Einstein” and “Planet of the Apes.”

Star Parties at the Observatory

The University of Utah Observatory on the roof of the South Physics Bldg. will be open to the public every Wednesday evening after dark, weather permitting, with no appointments necessary. Tours also will be available to the public by appointment only on Monday and Friday nights, weather permitting. For information call the Department of Physics at (801) 581-6901.

Laboratory Tours for Scouts

Tours of University of Utah physics laboratories will be available, usually late afternoons, by appointment only for Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops. To schedule a tour, call the Department of Physics at (801) 581-6901.

Leonardo on Wheels – Science

Leonardo on Wheels – Science, which is the outreach program for the planned Utah Science Center at Library Square, will feature University of Utah medical physics exhibits during 2005. Leonardo on Wheels travels the state and region to deliver interactive science experiences to schools and communities.

To schedule a visit to your school, contact Mike Anderson at (801) 671-9089 or For more information, see

University Course on Einstein’s Legacy

During fall semester 2005 only, the University of Utah will offer Physics 1905, Einstein’s Legacy, which is designed to introduce Einstein’s ideas to students in celebration of the centennial of his key discoveries in relativity and quantum physics. See the university class schedule for more information.