2001: A Spacetime Odyssey will kick off activities

April 24, 2001

ANN ARBOR---The newly formed Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics (MCTP) at the University of Michigan will host its inaugural conference on May 21-25. The event, titled "2001: A Spacetime Odyssey," will feature some of the world's most distinguished scientists in the fields of particle physics, astronomy and astrophysics, and mathematics.

MTCP was launched last November as part of a long-range plan to increase the Department of Physics' emphasis on theoretical physics and to broaden its range of interdisciplinary activities. "Michigan has a long tradition of excellence in physics, and this center will help us maintain that tradition," says center director Michael Duff, the Oskar Klein Collegiate Professor of Physics. The center joins others established at major universities across the country. Most recently Stanford, Berkeley, and Caltech/USC have started theory centers similar to the one in Ann Arbor.

The primary mechanism MCTP will use to achieve its goal of promoting synergy and advances in research among various scientific fields will be to hold conferences and workshops, and to host distinguished visitors. Following the Spacetime Odyssey conference, the center will hold a workshop in August on pattern formation and diffusion-limited growth. Other visitors scheduled to visit the center in the near future are academician Lev Okun, Fields Medalist Sir Michael Atiyah and distinguished physicist and author Freeman Dyson.

According to Duff, the all-star lineup of conference speakers, which includes Nobel Prize winners and some two dozen other researchers of similar distinction, is a fitting way for the MCTP to celebrate its formation.

"The essential idea is for the MCTP to promote interdisciplinary research in theoretical physics and related mathematical science through a program of individual and collaborative research, seminars, workshops and conferences," Duff says.

"This conference is a perfect example of that kind of wide-ranging interaction at the highest level. We hope it will promote the fruitful exchange of ideas among researchers from many fields---from astrophysics and cosmology to particle physics and mathematics---who might not ordinarily have the chance to meet."

To carry the idea of interdisciplinary interaction a step further, the conference organizers are also developing a collaboration between the Department of Physics and the School of Art and Design, setting up teams of artists and physicists/mathematicians who will work together to produce physics-inspired art works that will be displayed during the conference.
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More information, including registration, is available on the Web site http://www.umich.edu/~mctp/ or contact Michael Duff, 734- 936-0662, mduff@umich.edu.

University of Michigan

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