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Media Advisory

UC BERKELEY: String Theorist Ed Witten to talk Jan. 26

22 January 2004

ATTENTION: Science Editors and Writers

Contact: Robert Sanders
(510) 643-6998 rls@pa.urel.berkeley.edu

"Quark Confinement and String Theory," a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, by the world's No. 1 proponent of string theory. The free public talk, the annual J. Robert Oppenheimer Lecture in Physics, kicks off campus celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Oppenheimer's birth.

5:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26

2050 Valley Life Sciences Building, UC Berkeley

Edward Witten, professor of natural sciences, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.

A MacArthur "genius" fellow and winner of the Fields Medal - the "Nobel" of mathematics - Witten is one of the world's leading theoretical physicists and one of the principal authors of string theory, which seeks to unify quantum mechanics with gravity. String theorists propose that tiny, high-dimensional strings, closed into loops, vibrate to produce the various components of matter.

About his upcoming talk, Witten said: "Although particles such as neutrons and protons are made of quarks, we have been unable to observe isolated free quarks. Understanding this property of 'quark confinement' has been a challenge to theoretical physicists." In his lecture, he will discuss old and new ideas about quark confinement and its connection to string theory.

UC Berkeley's annual Oppenheimer lecture honors the late physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer, who taught on campus from 1929 until he left for Los Alamos to direct the Manhattan Project during World War II. He returned after the war, but departed in 1947 to become director of the Institute for Advanced Study. Throughout the coming year, UC Berkeley and its Department of Physics plan events, including a conference and library exhibits, to celebrate the centenary of Oppenheimer's birth in 1904.