The Polykarp Kusch Lecture Series

Concerns of the Lively Mind 2017


from Conception to Metamorphosis

photo of Dr. Hobson Wildenthal

Dr. Hobson Wildenthal
Executive Vice President

Dr. Hobson Wildenthal

Dr. Wildenthal will discuss the research in nuclear physics that he pursued from 1960 through 1990, its relationships to the broader sweep of 20th century discoveries in physics, and the evolution of scientific thought and knowledge over the past two millennia. One topic will be the critical interdependence of apparatus, observation, mathematics, and concept in scientific progress. Another will be how progress in understanding one domain of nature leads to new questions about other domains, and when does one field of research mutate into what is essentially a new field. Another point of discussion will be the historical trend of ever-greater specialization in scientific research and why this oft-decried phenomenon is ever more essential to progress. Yet another is the operational meaning of "understanding."

Dr. Wildenthal's research focused on understanding the phenomena that can be observed when the nuclei of atoms are bombarded with energetic beams of particles, work that started in graduate school at the University of Kansas, continued through post-doctoral work at Rice University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and culminated at Michigan State University, where he served as a member of the faculty of physics and of the MSU Cyclotron Laboratory. These observed phenomena provided clues to understanding the internal structures of atomic nuclei. In turn, accumulating evidence stimulated attempts to "explain" the nature of nuclear states with a conceptual model that provided a consistent and comprehensive mathematical representation of the evidence. Wildenthal's work over thirty years illustrates how a field of research evolves from hazy and crude beginnings through fruitful maturity towards an all-too-soon completion, exhaustion, and mutation.

What is an atom, what is an atomic nucleus, what is the solution to the D5 S1 D3 mystery? The lecture will attempt to answer these and other questions.

Dr. Polykarp Kusch

photo of Dr. Polykarp Kusch

Dr. Polykarp Kusch was Nobel laureate in physics in 1955 and came to The University of Texas at Dallas in 1972. At UT Dallas, he was Regental Professor and served on the physics faculty.

His distinguished science career was complemented by his superb teaching. He delighted students with his presentations of physics experiments in his "Phenomena of Nature" classes.

Before coming to UT Dallas, Dr. Kusch had served as professor, vice president, provost and dean of faculties at Columbia University.

When he retired in 1982, UT Dallas established a program of annual lectures with the theme "Concerns of the Lively Mind" to honor Dr. Kusch.


Kusch Lectures

2021 Denise Park The Amazing Aging Mind: A Scientific Journey
2019 Alex R. Piquero Nothing Fake Here: Debunking the Immigration/Crime Relationship
2018 Zsuzsanna Ozsváth Our Journey Home: My Life and Work in Dallas
2017 Hobson Wildenthal The Lifecycle of a Science from Conception to Metamorphosis
2016 Suresh P. Sethi Conflicts in Supply Chains and Contracts that Restore Efficiency
2015 R. David Edmunds Defending the Omaha Nation
2014 Ray H. Baughman Nanotechnology for Fun and Profit
2013 Bhavani Thuraisingham Reactively Adaptive Malware
2012 Aage Møller The Malleable Brain
2011 Ram Rao From Perfection to Retail Competition
2010 Rainer Schulte Life as Translation
2009 John Hoffman The Phoenix Mission to Mars
2008 George McMechan 3-D Imaging of Earth's Energy Resources
2007 Alice J. O'Toole How We Represent and Recognize Faces
2006 Edward J. Harpham Adam Smith's Lost World of Gratitude
2005 Lawrence J. Overzet Industrial Plasmas: Enabling the Future
2004 Clay Reynolds A Cow Can Moo: The Irony of the Artistic Lie
2003 Roderick A. Heelis Our Space Environment
2002 Rajiv Banker Pay for Performance: Myth or Reality?
2001 Emily Tobey The Bionic Ear: Connecting Technology to Societal Change
2000 Stephen Rabe Debate Without End: Vietnam - 25 Years After
1999 Irving Hoch Urban Population and the Quality of Life
1998 Hanna Ulatowska Narrative in Human Experience
1997 A. Dean Sherry From Molecules to Man: A History of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)
1996 Hal Sudborough Permutatios, Pancakes and Philogeny
1995 Robert Xavier Rodriguez The Mystery of the Two Worlds
1994 Frank Bass The Evolution of a General Theory of the Diffusion of Technological Innovations
1993 Bert Moore Passions of the Mind
1992 Gerald Scully Institutional Technology and Economic Progress
1991 Brian J. L. Berry Deeper Societal Structures - Glimpses Through a Macroscope
1990 William Hanson Our Solar System: A Perspective
1989 Robert Corrigan Tragedy - The Tragic, and The Historical Moment
1988 Sandy Friel-Patti The University in the Community
1987 R. Chandresakaran Education of High Quality: Can This be Achieved?
1986 Wolfgang Rindler Gravitation: From Newton to Einstein
1985 Anthony Champagne Science and the Edges of Life