Nobel Laureate Jim Cronin to Speak About Cosmic Rays

Feb. 18, 2009

Event: "History of Cosmic Ray Research: Serendipity, Colorful Scientists, and the Birth of Sub-Atomic Physics," a public talk by Nobel Laureate Jim Cronin, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, presented by the Department of Physics at The University of Texas at Austin.

When: Thursday, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.

Where: John Archibald Wheeler Lecture Hall (RLM 4.102). Parking available at Speedway Garage (SWG), 105 East 27th St.

Background: The history of cosmic ray research is a remarkable one. It begins with a serendipitous discovery of radiation entering the Earth's atmosphere from outer space. The nature of the radiation involved phenomena unknown at the time of the discovery. Some 50 years were required to unravel the nature of the radiation, and the results of the research gave birth to the field of sub-atomic physics.

The solution of the cosmic ray puzzle involved some of the most colorful scientists of the 20th century. It involved scientific disputes that were only resolved by creative experimentation and theoretical developments. By 1953, cosmic rays were showing the beginnings of subatomic physics. The research then divided into research in subatomic physics using accelerators and research with the objective of finding the sources and nature of the cosmic rays-research that is active today.

Dr. Jim Cronin and University of Leeds Professor Alan Watson led an international project to study the nature and origin of rare but extremely powerful, high-energy cosmic rays that periodically bombard Earth. The project included more than 250 scientists from 19 nations. The scientists are now practicing a new form of astronomy rooted in particle physics.

For more information, contact Annie Harding, 512-475-7770.

For more information, contact: Lee Clippard, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 512-232-0104.