MIT physics Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek to give CU-Boulder's Gamow Lecture

Published: April 18, 2011

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Frank Wilczek, who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in physics, will give the 46th George Gamow Memorial Lecture at the University of Colorado Boulder on Tuesday, April 26.

Free and open to the public, the talk is titled "Anticipating a New Golden Age: A Vision and Its Fiery Trial at the Large Hadron Collider." Wilczek will describe the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, and how it will test new phenomena and ambitious ideas. The talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Macky Auditorium and is intended for a general audience.

The LHC sends protons and charged atoms whizzing around a 17-mile underground loop located on the border of France and Switzerland at 11,000 times per second -- nearly the speed of light. Located at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the collider can smash particles together at energy levels seven times higher than the previous record by such accelerators.

Scientists are using the LHC to attempt to recreate conditions immediately following the Big Bang, searching for answers about mysterious dark matter, dark energy, gravity and the fundamental laws of physics. The experiments may even shed light on the possibility that other dimensions exist, according to physicists.

Wilczek says future generations may view the LHC as the defining symbol of our culture, analogous to the pyramids of Egypt. The LHC project involves roughly 10,000 people from 60 countries, including more than 1,700 scientists, engineers, students and technicians from 94 American universities. Roughly 10 faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students from CU-Boulder's physics department have been involved in LHC research and development.

Wilczek shared the Nobel Prize in physics with David Gross and David Politzer for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction, research he conducted as a 21-year-old graduate student at Princeton University.

Wilczek has received numerous awards, including a 1982 McArthur Fellowship "genius grant," the 2005 King Faisal International Prize for Science and the 2003 Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The George Gamow lecture series started in 1971 and honors the late CU-Boulder physics professor who was pivotal in developing the big bang theory of the creation of the universe. He also was known for his many books popularizing science.

For more information on Wilczek and his work visit the Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine at For more information on the George Gamow Memorial Series Lecture Series visit

Frank Wilczek (photo courtesy of Justin Knight)