Stanford Pioneers in Science: Douglas Osheroff

Please join us this Winter as we continue the Stanford Pioneers in Science series. These events offer the public an opportunity to learn about the scientific contributions and lives of Stanford faculty members who have been awarded Nobel Prizes, National Medals of Science or Technology, and MacArthur Fellowships.

Each event consists of a presentation about the professional accomplishments of the featured scientist, an interview with the scientist, and QA with the audience.

This series is your chance to engage with some of the most consequential thinkers of our day—people who have helped to shape the scientific, technological, and economic fabric of our modern world.

The Stanford Pioneers in Science Series for the 2009-2010 year is sponsored by Stanford's Continuing Studies Program and by the Stanford Historical Society.

Douglas Osheroff, J.G. Jackson and C.J. Wood Professor of Physics; Gerhard Casper University Fellow in Undergraduate Education

Douglas Osheroff began tinkering with the world of physics as a boy in the basement of his home in Aberdeen, Washington. At six, he disassembled his toys to get at their electric motors, later he blew a hole in two walls with a muzzle-loading rifle he built, and nearly blinded himself when a makeshift miner's lamp exploded. But by the time he was a senior in high school, he had constructed a 110 keV Xray machine, and everybody knew there was no stopping him. Osheroff went to CalTech as an undergraduate (where he enrolled in Richard Feynman's legendary two-year course on physics) and to Cornell as a graduate student, where in 1971 he and his colleagues discovered the superfluidity in helium-3. It was for this breakthrough that Osheroff shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1996.

Fascinated by the wonders of the low-temperature world, Osheroff decided to stay in solid state physics after receiving his PhD in 1973, and took a research position at Bell Labs during what he calls its “golden era.” Osheroff says, “I was drawn to low-temperature work because it was so counterintuitive. Who would ever expect a liquid to flow up and out of the top of a beaker?” During his fifteen years at Bell, Osheroff continued to probe the mysteries of the cold world, was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, and was courted by numerous universities, finally accepting Stanford's offer to join the Physics department in 1987.

Osheroff is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Doug Osheroff's work will be introduced by his distinguished colleague, Alexander Fetter, Professor of Physics, Emeritus, and former Director of both the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory and the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials.

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Date and Time:
 Wednesday, February 3, 2010.  7:30 PM.
Approximate duration of 1.5 hour(s).
Cubberley Auditorium, School of Education  [Map]
General Public
Continuing Studies
Free and open to public.
Last Modified:
January 8, 2010