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At first glance, the principles of quantum physics turn our intuition about the real world on its head. Yet they remain the best explanation of not only atomic and subatomic phenomena, but also macroscopic phenomena and properties of matter and the universe as a whole. And they have led to quantum-based materials and technologies now responsible for 1/3 of our economy.
As students of physics come to appreciate, when observations seem counter-intuitive, the proper response is to re-train our intuitions rather than to force the evidence to fit our previous way of thinking. By so doing, physicists have developed a profound and remarkably precise understanding of the natural world.
That is the theme of Michael S. Walker’s Science Adventures presentation, based on his recent popular book, Quantum Fuzz: The Strange True Makeup of Everything Around Us (Prometheus Books, 2017). In a talk that will begin with a demonstration of illusion, and range briefly from the smallest to the largest realms of physics, Dr. Walker will focus on the strange nature of the quantum atom. In the process he will introduce us to brilliant scientists and their contributions toward understanding this building block of everything around us, and describe how this understanding has become an inspiration for modern invention.
Dr. Walker is a retired physicist, materials scientist, engineer, inventor, and project manager who holds degrees from MIT and Carnegie Mellon University. From 1961 to 1976, he worked at the Westinghouse Research and Development Center then located on Beulah Road in Churchill, PA. He then moved to the Intermagnetics General Corporation near Albany, NY, and remained there until his retirement. His research has been mainly involved in the development of superconductors and superconducting power applications of a scale to light cities. He is the author or coauthor of more than seventy technical papers and holds a dozen patents. In 1989, he was voted Inventor of the Year by the Eastern New York Patent Law Association for conceiving and developing a unique way of separating minerals using magnetic fluids.
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