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Physics in the communication industry

Published: 20 Nov 2002

The Anna I. McPherson Lectures in Physics for 2002 will be given by Professor Horst Stormer, professor in the Physics Department at Columbia University.

Nobel Prize winner to speak at McGill

Montreal, November 20, 2002 - The Anna I. McPherson Lectures in Physics for 2002 will be given by Professor Horst Stormer, professor in the Physics Department at Columbia University. Professor Stormer, who is an accomplished experimentalist in the field for condensed matter physics, also has an appointment at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs. Professor Stormer is most renowned for his role in the discovery of the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect, for which he shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Professor Stormer will present a public lecture, which is addressed to a general audience, on Thursday, November 21 at 7:30 pm, in the Stephen Leacock Building, Room 132 (McTavish Street, corner of Wilder Penfield). His lecture is entitled "Physics in the Communication Industry." It will describe the role that physical understanding and control of materials has played in the development of optical and electrical devices such as optical fibres and integrated circuits that made the Internet possible and gave rise to powerful personal computers. This talk will provide examples of today's physical research, mostly at Bell Labs, and its impact on technology. It will also speculate on future technological opportunities.

Professor Stormer will also present a colloquium, addressed to a scientific audience at a general level. This will be offered on Friday, November 22 at 2:30 pm in the Macdonald-Harrington Building Room G-10. The colloquium title is "Fractional Charges and Other Tales from Flatland." In it he will describe the physics of electrons confined to a plane and exposed to a magnetic field. These display an enormously diverse spectrum of fascinating new properties. Fractional charge and fractional quantum numbers are probably the most spectacular consequences of this two-dimensional correlated electron behaviour, but there are many other surprises.

The lecture series is named in honour of Anna Irene McPherson, who had an association with McGill that extended over a period of sixty years. She obtained her BA degree with First Class Honours in Mathematics and Physics from McGill in 1921 winning the Anne Molson Gold Medal, still today one of the most prestigious awards for undergraduate students at McGill. She then went on to obtain her MSc from McGill under Prof. Arthur Eve in 1923. After teaching mathematics for a time in a local high school, she went to the University of Chicago to do research in Prof. Michelson's Laboratory and received her PhD in 1933. After a few years' absence from physics she was invited to join McGill as a Demonstrator in 1940 and, after several promotions, became Associate Professor in 1954. After her retirement in 1970, the University invited her to become an Honorary Visiting Professor, a post that she held until her death in 1979.

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