Nobel Laureate John Hall To Be Honored At CU-Boulder March 17

Published: March 5, 2006

John "Jan" Hall, 2005 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics for his work in harnessing light to make ultra-precise measurements, will be honored with a public celebration at the University of Colorado at Boulder on March 17.

Hall, a fellow and senior research associate at JILA -- a joint institute on campus between CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- will be honored in the University Memorial Center ballroom from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free and open to the public, the event will be hosted by CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano and CU President Hank Brown.

Hall was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in physics along with Theodor W. Hänsch of Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, and Roy J. Glauber of Harvard University. Hall and Hänsch were cited for their contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the development of the "optical frequency comb technique" that is based on extremely short light pulses.

The discoveries are paving the way for new measuring techniques that should help improve the accuracy of atomic clocks, lasers and other instruments, including the next generation of GPS technology.

"Many students have worked with Jan Hall in his lab over the years and we are grateful for his passion for sharing knowledge with future scientists and teachers," said DiStefano. "The Nobel Prize is the highest accomplishment that scientists can hope for in their careers, and we are proud to celebrate his achievement with our campus community."

Brown said he is proud of Hall's continuing service to CU, the state of Colorado and the world. "His dedication epitomizes the best in the nation," Brown said.

Parking will be available at the Euclid Avenue Autopark next to the UMC.

Hall joined the NIST staff as a physicist in 1962 and became a fellow of JILA two years later. He was a senior scientist at NIST from 1971 until his retirement in 2004, although he remains a NIST senior scientist emeritus and is currently a senior research associate at JILA. JILA was formerly known as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics.

Hall has received many honors during his career, including the Department of Commerce Gold Medal -- individually in 1969 and as part of a group in 1974 and 2002. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1984.

Hall is the fourth CU-Boulder faculty member to win the Nobel Prize. CU-Boulder Distinguished Professor Carl Wieman of physics and NIST senior scientist Eric Cornell, also an adjoint professor in physics at CU-Boulder, shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics for their landmark creation of the world's first Bose-Einstein condensate. The condensate is a new form of matter that occurs at just a few hundred billionths of a degree above absolute zero.

CU-Boulder's first Nobel Prize came in 1989 when Distinguished Professor Thomas Cech shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Yale University's Sydney Altman for their independent discoveries that RNA can act as a catalyst in cell development. The research may pave the way for the use of RNA molecules as therapeutic agents against a variety of human diseases.

For more information on Hall, visit the Web at