William Phillips

  • Time, Einstein and the coolest things in the universe
  • Geist Heidelberg, Lecture

At the beginning of the 20th century, Einstein changed the way we think about time. Now, in the early 21st century, timekeeping is being revolutionized by the ability to cool a gas of atoms to temperatures millions of times lower than any naturally occurring temperature in the universe.

Atomic clocks, the finest timepieces ever made, are one of the scientific and technological wonders of modern life and are essential to industry, commerce and science. They are at the heart of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for cars, planes and hikers. Today, the best primary atomic clocks use ultracold atoms and achieve an accuracy of about one second in 100 million years, while a new generation of atomic clocks, hundreds of times better, is pushing us to redefine what we mean by time.

Prof. Dr. William Daniel Phillips is one of the foremost pioneers in the field of laser cooling. Together with Steven Chu, who was a guest at the DAI in May 2022, and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997.

In the context of the International Science Festival – Geist Heidelberg

Language: English

Foto: Markus Pössel by CC BY-SA 3.0

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