PULLMAN, Wash. — The 1989 Nobel Prize winner in physics, Norman F. Ramsey, will
deliver the 1999 S. Town Stephenson Distinguished Lecture at Washington State University. His
address “Exploring the Universe with Atomic Clocks,” is slated for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, in the
Webster Physical Science Building, Room 16.
A professor of physics at Harvard University, Ramsey won the Nobel Prize for his work in
precision measurements using molecular beams and the creation of the hydrogen maser.
Ramsey’s work formed the basis for the world’s most stable atomic clock. The most accurate
physical measurements are made of time and frequency with atomic clocks. Such clocks are used
in exploring the universe and in testing fundamental physical laws.
In his lecture, Ramsey will describe several of these applications. They include the use of
arrays of distant radiotelescopes to give high angular resolution; measurements of distances
along the surface of the earth that can be used to study the earth’s crustal dynamics; and the
stability and fluctuations in periodic phenomena such as pulsars and the earth’s rotation. He will
also discuss fundamental tests of theories of relativity and gravitation.
In his lengthy career, Norman Ramsey was a member of the MIT “Rad Lab” team that
developed three-centimeter radar, used by the Allies in World War II, and later worked at Los
Alamos National Laboratory on the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. His
experimental work has ranged from molecular beams to particle physics and has concentrated on
precision measurements of the electric and magnetic properties of nucleons, nuclei, atoms and
molecules. Ramsey’s books include “Experimental Nuclear Physics,” “Nuclear Moments,”
“Molecular Beams” and “Quick Calculus.”
Awards received by Ramsey in recognition of his accomplishments include the Presidential
Certificate of Merit, the Einstein Award, a National Medal of Science and ten honorary degrees.
Ramsey formerly chaired the American Physical Society and the Physics Section of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Stephenson Lecture, sponsored by the WSU Department of Physics, honors the late S.
Town Stephenson, who came to WSU from Yale University in 1934 and served the university as
chair of Physical Sciences Division, dean of faculty and vice president. He was noted for his
research on the propagation of radar waves and low energy x-rays. He died in 1964. A reception
will be held following the lecture.