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Noted physicist, psychologist to speak at symposium in honor of William Lichten

A Nobel Prize-winning physicist and one of the founders of the cognitive revolution in psychology will be among the featured speakers at a symposium marking the recent retirement of William L. Lichten, professor emeritus of physics and of engineering and applied science.

A member of the Yale faculty since 1964, Lichten has focused his work in the areas
of experimental and theoretical atomic physics. He has written more than 50 scientific articles or papers in his field, as well as a number of educational publications. He served on numerous University committees, including the faculty advisory committee for the Teacher Training Program at Yale College and the junior appointments committee. His honors include fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The symposium in Lichten's honor will take place 1-5 p.m. in Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Ave. It is free and open to the public.

The symposium will be chaired by Mark A. Kasevich, associate professor of physics, and will feature introductory remarks by Charles Baltay, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and chair of the department.

William D. Phillips, who shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, will speak on "Atom Optics with Bose Condensates." Phillips is the head of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Phillips was the first person to realize the possibility of using the pressure exerted by light to stop and manipulate atoms. He later made the discovery that atoms could be cooled to temperatures below what was formerly believed to be the "quantum limit," to less than a millionth of a degree on the absolute scale. This discovery made it possible recently to achieve the Bose-Einstein condensation of atoms, a long sought after goal of physicists. It was "for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light" that Phillips shared the Nobel Prize.

George Miller, professor emeritus of psychology at Princeton University and one of the founders of the cognitive revolution in psychology, will discuss "A Function of the Context Revisited." The title of the talk refers to Miller's pioneering research on the effect on the perception and recall of words by the context in which they are heard -- research which has had wide impact on the fields of psychology and linguistics. In fact, Miller's 1956 paper "The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information" is considered one of the major landmarks in the cognitive revolution in the field of psychology.

Also speaking at the symposium will be Joseph Macek of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who will present a talk titled "Evolution of the Concept of 'Adiabatic' States in Atomic Physics: A Tribute to William Lichten." Closing remarks will be offered by Vernon W. Hughes, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Physics and senior research scientist/scholar in physics.

Following the symposium, there will be a banquet at Woolsey Hall. The guest speaker will be Howard Wainer of the Educational Testing Service, who will speak on "Plots in Time: From the Creation to Tom's Veggies." There is a fee for the banquet.

For more information or to reserve a seat at the banquet, contact Laurelyn Celone at 432-3827 or laurelyn.celone@yale.edu.