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March 2007

Release Date: March 5, 2007

1993 Nobel Laureate in Physics Named WTMA Science Lecturer

Nobel Prize winner Dr. Joseph H. Taylor, Jr., will speak during the 31st Annual West Texas Medical Associates Distinguished Lectureship in Science honoring Dr. Roy E. Moon Tuesday, March 27, at Angelo State University.

Taylor’s public talk, titled “Binary Pulsars and Relativistic Gravity,” will begin at 8 p.m. March 27 in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center in the ASU Houston Harte University Center. Prior to the public lecture, Taylor will also meet with ASU students to explain pulsars, clocks and gravity at 2 p.m. The lectures are open free to the public.

Along with his research partner, Russell A. Hulse, Taylor in 1993 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the first binary pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star that emits pulses of radiation. The significance of the discovery was the powerful support it lent to Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, an integral part of his general theory of relativity.

In 1915, Einstein had postulated the existence of gravitational waves as a critical part of his theory of relativity. Until Taylor and Hulse discovered the first binary pulsar, scientists had no way to test Einstein’s theories of gravity. Taylor and Hulse’s work was the first scientific evidence of gravitational radiation.

When receiving the Nobel Prize, Taylor said, “Russell Hulse and I did not set out in 1973 to detect gravitational waves, or even to conduct experiments into the fundamental nature of gravity. Instead, we set out to chart the celestial globe with a new type of star, aware only that we were sailing a route none had explored before and that wondrous new lands might be revealed beyond the next horizon.”

Currently the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Princeton University, Taylor holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard and has held academic positions at Harvard and the University of Massachusetts. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society. His other professional memberships include the American Astronomical Society, International Scientific Radio Union and International Astronomic Union.

Besides the Nobel Prize, Taylor has also won the Einstein Prize from the Albert Einstein Society, the Wolf Prize in Physics, the Tomalla Foundation Prize in Gravitation and Cosmology, and the Karl Schwarzschild Medal from Astronomische Gessellschaft. He was also a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Assessment of Options for extending the life of the Hubble Space Telescope and has published more than 200 articles in the professional research literature of physics and astronomy.

The WTMA Lectureship honors Dr. Roy E. Moon, a longtime San Angelo obstetrician and gynecologist, who died in 1976. He practiced for 28 years with Clinic Hospital Medical Associates, now West Texas Medical Associates. The lectureship was established in 1976 and is underwritten by a grant to ASU from members of WTMA.

Each year, the lectureship brings a scientist of national prominence to ASU for public lectures, colloquia and informal discussions. Past speakers have included 10 other Nobel Prize winners.

The selection committee is chaired by Dr. Grady Price Blount, dean of the ASU College of Sciences, and includes Dr. Crosby Jones, professor of biology; Dr. Toni Sauncy, associate professor of physics; Dr. George Shankle, professor of chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and WTMA physicians, Dr. Patrick Gibson, Dr. Deborah Hajovsky, Dr. David Ivans and Dr. Fazlur Rahman.

For more information, call the ASU College of Sciences at 942-2024.