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Regional physics conference to be held at New Mexico State

Physicists from four states will gather at New Mexico State University Nov. 2 and 3 for the annual meeting of the Four Corners Section of the American Physical Society.

tion to two days of scientific presentations, the conference will include a public lecture by a Nobel Prize winning physicist and a special session for high school students and teachers, said New Mexico State physics Professor William Gibbs, chairman of the conference organizing committee.

Gibbs said 120 to 130 physicists from universities, national laboratories and other organizations are expected to attend the meeting. The Four Corners Section of APS covers New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

Steven Chu, chairman of the physics department at Stanford University and a 1997 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, will present a public lecture at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, in the university's Corbett Center Auditorium.

Chu's talk, titled "Laser Cooling and Trapping: From Atomic Clocks to Watching Enzymes Work, One Molecule at a Time," is the university's annual Gardiner Memorial Lecture. Admission is free.

Chu will discuss how atoms can be cooled with lasers to temperatures near absolute zero, slowing their movement and allowing them to be manipulated with light or magnetic fields. Applications for the new technology include ultraprecise atomic clocks and new instruments of extraordinary accuracy.

The work for which Chu won the 1997 Nobel Prize led to research that won this year's Nobel Prize in Physics. Three American scientists -- two of them from Colorado -- shared the 2001 award for creating a new state of matter, called a Bose-Einstein condensate, by cooling atoms to near absolute zero.

A special session for high school students and their instructors will begin with a free pizza lunch at noon Saturday and will include five presentations by New Mexico State University physics faculty members. The lunch will be in the Corbett Center's Student Club and the presentations and demonstrations will follow in the Corbett Auditorium.

Physics kits will be given to high school students who attend the Saturday session.

For more information about the Four Corners APS meeting, contact Gibbs at (505) 646-6711 or gibbs@nmsu.edu. For information on Saturday's secondary education session, contact Gibbs or Steve Kanim of the New Mexico State University physics faculty, (505) 646-1208 or skanim@nmsu.edu.