Life, the universe and everything: public lecture

The man behind the Holy Grail of physics - a grand theory of everything - will speak tonight at UNSW.

Fritzsch inside

The man behind the Holy Grail of physics - a grand theory of everything - will speak tonight at UNSW.

The lecture by eminent theoretical physicist, Harald Fritzsch, will be a feast for those with an appetite for the big questions in physics and the principles that govern life, the universe and everything.

Professor Fritzsch, who is the Sommerfeld Professor of Physics at the University of Munich, will speak about the "fundamental constants" in physics and the advantages of quantum optic experimentation in understanding the values of these constants.

A physical constant is a quantity that scientists believe to be both universal in nature and constant in time. There are many such constants in science, including the gravitational constant, the speed of light and the electric constant.

Professor Fritzsch will also be presented with the Silver Dirac Medal for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics, which is awarded by UNSW on the occasion of the Dirac Lecture. The Lecture and the Medal commemorate the visit to UNSW in 1975 of Professor P.A.M. Dirac, one of the greatest theoretical physicists of the 20th century.

Harald Fritzsch was born and raised near Zwickau in East Germany. He studied physics at the University of Leipzig and was a member of a group of students and scientists that opposed the communist government. In 1968 he was forced to escape from East Germany and settled in Munich, where he became a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Physics. In 1971 he obtained his PhD at the Technical University in Munich.

As a graduate student, he started a lifelong collaboration with Murray Gell-Mann at Caltech. After becoming professor at the Universities of Wuppertal in Germany and Bern in Switzerland, in 1980 he obtained the Sommerfeld Chair for Physics at the University of Munich.

In 1972, Fritzsch and Gell-Mann wrote the first paper on the gauge theory of the strong interactions, which they later named Quantum Chromodynamics. For the past 35 years he has worked on this theory and investigated many of its features, including scaling violations and the spin problem.

In 1975 Fritzsch proposed together with Minkowski the SO(10)-theory of Grand Unification, which is today the outstanding candidate for a unified theory. He has published many papers on features of the weak interactions and proposed the so-called Fritzsch matrices to describe the flavour mixing. He has recently applied these ideas to lepton mixing and neutrino oscillations. Fritzsch has written several successful general books on particle physics, cosmology, relativity theory and fundamental constants, which have been translated into many languages.

He received the Medal for science publishing of the German Physical Society in 1994, and is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science.

Date: Tuesday 15th April, 2008
Time: 6.30 pm
Where: Keith Burrows Theatre (map reference J-14), University of New South Wales

Refreshments will be served beforehand from 6.15pm. The public lecture is sponsored by the Dirac Fund and the Gordon Godfrey Bequest for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics at UNSW, and by the NSW Branch of the Australian Institute for Physics.