Upton, NY -- Nobel laureate Robert C. Richardson will give a lecture on "The Discovery of Superfluid Helium-3" at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Tuesday, July 1, at 4 p.m. in the Laboratory's Berkner Hall. The lecture is part of the BNL 50th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture Series, which features talks on various topics throughout 1997 to celebrate Brookhaven's beginning a half-century ago. The talks are open to the public free of charge.
In 1972, Dr. Richardson, with his colleagues from Cornell University, Douglas D. Osherhoff (now at Stanford University) and David M. Lee, discovered a phenomenon known as superfluidity in helium-3, a rare form of helium. Superfluidity is the frictionless flow of fluid that is observed in liquid helium when it is cooled to near absolute zero, or minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. The condition makes helium-3 perform differently than normal liquids. For example, it can actually flow uphill.
For their discovery, Dr. Richardson and his colleagues won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1996. Future studies of superfluid helium-3 may provide insight into cosmic strings, which were possibly the precursors for galaxies. Also, further investigations may lead to a better understanding of the rotation of neutron stars.
In his talk, Dr. Richardson will discuss the experiment
in which he and his colleagues serendipitously found superfluidity in helium-3,
as well as review subsequent experiments that revealed the element's surprising
Robert C. Richardson is the Floyd R. Newman Professor of Physics and Director of the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics at Cornell University. Dr. Richardson joined Cornell in 1966 after earning a Ph.D. in physics from Duke University and a B.S. and M.S. in physics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Drs. Richardson, Lee and Osheroff's discoveries in superfluidity were recognized with the Simon Memorial Prize in Low Temperature Physics in 1976 from the Institute of Physics, London, and the Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society in 1981. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Richardson was also elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic
and applied research in physical, biomedical and environmental sciences
and in selected energy technologies. Associated Universities, Inc., a nonprofit
research management organization, operates the Laboratory under contract
with the Department of Energy.