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Nobel Prize-Winning CRLS Alum Illuminates Stone Cold Science

Nobel Laureate Addresses CRLS
Posted on 11/07/2017

On Tuesday, September 26, CRLS students had the opportunity to hear a lecture by Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Cornell. Dr. Cornell, who attended CRLS during the late 1970’s and MIT during the 1980’s, shared a witty and thought-provoking lecture on the concepts involved in his research into the coldest materials in the universe, Bose-Einstein condensates. This research was honored with a Nobel Prize for Physics in 2001.

Until the breakthrough accomplished by Dr. Cornell and his research partners Carle E. Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle, Bose Einstein condensates had been theorized but never produced in a lab. The successful production of these condensates opened new avenues for physics research worldwide.
  • Watch an interview about the significance of their discovery at NobelPrize.org
Dr. Cornell's talk was titled “Stone Cold Science: Bose Condensation and the Weird World a Millionth of a Degree from Absolute Zero." Harvard Professor and CRLS Parent Dr. Hossein Sadeghpour was the catalyst in connecting Dr. Cornell to the high school, where Allan Gehant, CRLS Dean of Curriculum - Science, arranged for Math, Physics and Chemistry students to attend. The lecture was graciously hosted by the Cambridge Public Library, in their Main branch lecture hall.

The students listened with rapt attention, and were invited to ask questions about Dr. Cornell’s research and life. Dr. Cornell paid homage throughout the presentation to his now-retired CRLS science teachers, Mr. John Samp and Mr. Tom McCarthy who were both present for the lecture. 

From winning the Nobel to surviving a life-threatening infection and medically-induced coma that resulted in the loss of one arm, Dr. Cornell expressed deep gratitude. The near death experience put the satisfactions of career and family into perspective. “I beat the odds, baby—this is good,” he said.