Taken from the fall 2006 course catalog of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke University in North Carolina.

This lecture series will survey key scientific accomplishments in the 20th century as reflected by Nobel Science Awards.

During the fall semester the following topics will be discussed:

September 20 – Evidence for the Hot Big Bang Origin of the Universe
The discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, along with an update on the latest astrophysical results will be discussed.

September 27 – Radioactivity
The scientific advances made by Marie Curie in proposing the idea of radioactive transformation of atoms will be examined.

October 4 – Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, the First Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
The life of Roentgen and the work that led to his discovery of X-rays will be discussed.

October 11 – The Behavior of Matter at Very Low Temperature
This talk will focus on Bardeen and Robert C. Richardson, both engaging personalities and scholars whose research made a deep impact on science.

October 18 – What is Light Made Of?
Einstein and his 1905 proposal regarding the particle nature of light he deemed to be “very revolutionary” will be discussed. The discussion will conclude with what is known about light today.

November 1 – Karl Landsteiner and the Blood Group Alphabet
This lecture will explore how Karl Landsteiner, while looking for something else, discovered blood groups. The discussion will also review what he did in the intervening quarter century and what he did after becoming a Nobel Laureate.

November 8 – It has not escaped our notice…” The Discoveries of Watson and Crick
Participants will travel back in time to the Eagle Pub on February 25, 1953, when the secret of life was discovered – a story of brilliance, serendipity, intrigue and deviousness.

November 15 – Making Bread from Air
Participants will be briefed on the life, times and scientific contributions of Fritz Haber, the man who devised a process of fixing nitrogen from air to produce desperately needed fertilizer.

November 29 – Buckminsterfullerene: Gateway to Nanoscience
The discovery of buckministerfullerene, a new carbon structure, will be discussed. It was a classic example of scientific serendipity: it was not anticipated, the discoverers were, at first, not believed: and it has had momentous consequences for a new field of molecular science.

December 6 – The Nobel Experience
Dr. Peter Agre, the First Vice Chancellor for Science at Technology at Duke University Medical Center and a recent Nobel Laureate (2003), reflects on the personal impact of winning the award and speaks of his work leading to the discovery of aqua Orin, the first water channel protein.




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