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Dr. Daniel Kleppner, the Lester Wolfe Professor of Physics and associate director of the Research Laboratory for Electronics, will deliver the 1995-96 Killian Award Lecture, "Views from a Garden of Worldly Delights," at 4pm Wednesday, March 13, in Huntington Hall, Rm 10-250.
Professor Kleppner's "discoveries, inventions and contributions in atomic physics place him at the forefront of a science which is one of the foundations of modern technology," said the citation from the committee which selected him as this year's Killian Lecturer.
In an abstract of his talk, Professor Kleppner said: "Science thrives by the interchange of ideas, the sharing of knowledge and the appreciation of fresh views. It is hardly a coincidence that most scientists delight in describing their work. Curing scientists of their obsession to explain would probably put an end to science. That is my rationale for talking to you about some of the views that I have glimpsed in the course of my research. I think of these as views from a garden of worldly delights, for science-embedded in nature and overflowing with wondrous creations-is indeed such a garden. I shall describe some advances in science from a rather personal point of view, tracing themes that wend through the creation of modern science and flow into today's world of atomic physics. I will explain how contemporary research on arcana such as quantum chaos and the dynamics of the vacuum is connected to the work of Johannes Kepler by a continuous stream. I do this with some diffidence, for scientists generally prefer to dream of the future rather than contemplate the past. Glimpses into the past, however, can help us put our science, and indeed our world views, into a healthier perspective. That, at any rate, is my hope."
The Killian Award was established by the faculty in 1971 as a tribute to James R. Killian Jr. for his many outstanding contributions to MIT on the occasion of his retirement as chairman of the MIT Corporation.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 13, 1996.