Monday November 26 2007

Time and Einstein in the 21st Century:  The coolest stuff in the universe

Professor Bill Phillips


At the beginning of the 20th century Einstein published three revolutionary ideas that changed forever how we view Nature. At the beginning of the 21st century Einstein’s thinking is shaping one of the key scientific and technological wonders of contemporary life: atomic clocks, the best timekeepers ever made. Such super-accurate clocks are essential to industry, commerce, and science; they are the heart of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which guides cars, airplanes, and hikers to their destinations. Today, atomic clocks are still being improved, using Einstein’s ideas to cool the atoms to incredibly low temperatures. Atomic gases reach temperatures less than a billionth of a degree above Absolute Zero, without solidifying. Such atoms enable clocks accurate to better than a second in 60 million years as well as both using and testing some of Einstein’s strangest predictions.This will be a lively, multimedia presentation, including experimental demonstrations and down-to-earth explanations about some of today’s most exciting science.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm (Doors open at 6pm)
  • Venue: Ithaca Auditorium, Brisbane City Hall
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, and Bill will be available to answer any questions.
  • Questions? Contact Joel (0411 267 044 or or Nelle (

Professor Bill Phillips won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for developments of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. He currently works at NIST – the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, USA.