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Kleppner wins NAS prize


Daniel Kleppner, the Lester Wolfe Professor of Physics, will deliver the National Academy of Science 's Robertson Memorial Lecture and receive a prize of $10,000. The honor is awarded every three years to a distinguished scientist who is invited to lecture on his or her work and its international implications.

This year's topic is low-temperature physics. Kleppner is director of the National Science Foundation's MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms and associate director of MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics.

Kleppner was chosen "for his leadership in merging the research fields of atomic physics, quantum degenerate systems and low-temperature physics." The lecture was established by friends and associates of the late Howard P. Robertson, former president of California Institute of Technology, and has been presented since 1967.

The award is one of 14 to be given by the National Academy of Sciences on April 29 in Washington, D.C., during the academy's 139th annual meeting.

Kleppner's longtime colleague and friend, Professor of Physics Wolfgang Ketterle, shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering Bose-Einstein condensate, a new form of matter.

Kleppner has said that he feels like a grandfather of Bose-Einstein condensate. In the early 1980s, he and colleagues tried to see a Bose-Einstein condensate in an atomic gas. "We eventually got BEC with atomic hydrogen and we were very pleased with that," Kleppner said. "Like most people who worked on BEC, we thought it would be an exciting development, but we had no idea how interesting it would be and the consequences of it."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 30, 2002.

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