2/2015

Cool atoms and laser light

What do Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, time and light have in common? What is the world's most accurate time keeper? Nobel Laureate, Professor William D. Phillips answered these questions while speaking to a packed audience during the Science and Technology Day at TUT in September.

William D. Phillips

 

Nobel Prize winner William D. Phillips used liquid nitrogen to illustrate what happens to gas when it is cooled.

 

Tampere University of Technology hosted the annual Science and Technology Day on 22 September. The popular event attracted a crowd of 400 science and technology enthusiasts.

Professor William D. Phillips captivated his audience with a compelling presentation titled ‘Einstein, Time and Light’. He put on an entertaining show that demonstrated the consequences of Einstein’s theory of relativity for our daily lives.

Professor Phillips from the USA received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. The technique slows the movement of gaseous atoms and cools them to temperatures approaching absolute zero, or minus 270 degrees Celsius. His invention continues to be widely applied, among others, in the development of high-precision measurement systems. In addition, Phillips’s research has paved the way for the development of the world’s most accurate atomic clocks that are carried by GPS satellites orbiting the Earth.

Phillips started his research on laser cooling back in 1979 at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he has worked ever since.

Bruce Oreck

 

Bruce Oreck spoke at the Science and Technology Day.

 

Day for science and technology

The year 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light by the United Nations. As this year also marks TUT’s 50th anniversary, the Science and Technology Day featured an impressive roster of speakers. Director General Carlos Lee from the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) and Chief Planning Officer Kai Husso from the Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economy gave presentations exploring Finland’s science, technology and innovation policy.

One of the high-profile speakers was the former U.S. Ambassador to Finland Bruce Oreck, who talked about the need to redefine innovation and entrepreneurship. He said that the academic and business communities worldwide should pay more attention to the sweeping changes currently affecting our environment and society, such as population growth, issues with food and water scarcity, and urbanization. Innovations that address these global challenges would have enormous potential to drive economic growth in Finland.

Bruce Oreck is a lawyer and businessman and very active in environmental issues. After his term as ambassador, Oreck has continued his career, among others, as a speaker and lecturer in Finland.

TUT celebrates 50th anniversary

The year 2015 marks an important milestone for Tampere University of Technology. The University turns 50 and commemorates the anniversary with a series of events and activities running throughout the year.
Light has been selected as the theme of the anniversary year. As the symbol of life and hope, it reflects the promise that science and technology hold for addressing many of today’s global challenges.

 

Text: Tuuli Laukkanen
Photos: Tuuli Laukkanen and Sanna Schildt

 
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