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Nobel Laureate Highlights Heilborn Symposium Jan. 6-8

Six distinguished speakers will focus on complexity in nature

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December 23, 2009 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Murray Gell-Mann, who won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles, will be one of six distinguished speakers delivering lectures at the annual Walter and Christine Heilborn Symposium to be held Jan. 6 to 8 at Northwestern University.

The focus of this year's Heilborn Symposium is complexity, and much of Gell-Mann's recent research at the Santa Fe Institute has focused on the theory of complex adaptive systems. Other symposium speakers will discuss the application of chaos theory to different natural settings, including the motion of planets around the sun.

The symposium, free and open to the public, will consist of six talks delivered over three days at two different locations in the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston campus.

Morning talks will be of a more technical nature while the afternoon talks will be more general. The complete schedule is:

Wednesday, Jan. 6:

  • "Secular Instability: Organization of Planetary Systems and the Formation of Hot Jupiters," Yoram Lithwick, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, Northwestern University, 11 a.m., Room F235
  • "Chaos," James Yorke, professor of mathematics and physics, University of Maryland, 4 p.m., Ryan Family Auditorium

Thursday, Jan. 7:

  • "Relativistic Chaos: Nonlinear Dynamics in Large Particle Accelerators," Michael Syphers, assistant accelerator division head, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, 11 a.m., Room F235
  • "Is the Solar System Stable?" Jacques Laskar, director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research, Paris Observatory, 4 p.m., Ryan Family Auditorium

Friday, Jan. 8:

  • "Quantum Transport in a Random Fractal," James Sauls, professor of physics and astronomy, Northwestern University, 11 a.m., Room F235
  • "Simplicity and Complexity," Murray Gell-Mann, distinguished fellow at the Santa Fe Institute and professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, 4 p.m., Ryan Family Auditorium

A public reception will be held half an hour before the start of each lecture.

The Heilborn Symposium is co-sponsored by Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, The Graduate School, the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO), the Chicago Council on Science and Technology and the Adler Planetarium.

For more information including details on each talk, go to the symposium's Web site. For further questions, contact Pamela Horstmann at (847) 491-3644 or pmh@northwestern.edu.