Recent Nobel Laureate in Physics Speaks at U.Va.

Feb. 1, 2007 -- The 2005 Nobel Prize winner in physics, Theodor Hänsch, gave a lecture on Thursday, January 25 in the Dome Room of the Rotunda.  Hänsch’s talk, “A Passion for Precision,” was well attended by faculty and students alike.

Hänsch is director of the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany and professor of experimental physics and laser spectroscopy at Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. Hänsch received the Nobel Prize for his role in the research and development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, and, more specifically, the optical frequency comb technique.  Professor Hänsch shares the 2005 Prize with two longtime collaborators, Roy Glauber and John Hall.  Their developments have enabled a more exact measure of the color of the light of atoms, enabling measurements of time and matter that are increasingly more minute and precise. 

“In physics and science and engineering, precision is actually a very important thing,” said Hänsch.  “Modern technology would be unthinkable without precise measurements.  And whenever you have some instrument that allows you to measure more accurately than your competitors you have an advantage because you can look where the others cannot look, and you have a chance to maybe discover something new.” 

The lecture was sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies as a part of the Nobel Laureate Science Lecture Series.  During his visit, Hänsch also met for lunch with a small group of postdoctoral research associates and attended a dinner with U.Va. faculty and community members.