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Wojciech Zurek, laboratory fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, will give two talks Thursday in Hugel Science Center as a Phi Beta Visiting Scholar.

Open to the public, the talks are presented by the Physics Club and physics department.

The first talk, “When Symmetry Breaks, How Big Are the Pieces?” will begin at noon in room 100, and will focus on the concept that although phase transitions are usually studied in equilibrium, a unique effect occurs when they are forced to take place quickly, as scientists believe happened early on in the history of the universe.

The second talk, “Quantum Origins of the Classical,” will be at 8 p.m. in room 103. Zurek will provide a review of the progress on some of the key questions concerning the interpretation of quantum theory. This presentation is geared to a general audience.

Educated in Krakow, Poland, and Austin,Texas, Zurek spent two years at Caltech as a Tolman Fellow and began his affiliation with Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1984 as a J. Robert Oppenheimer Fellow. During 1991-96 he was leader of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at Los Alamos and, in 1996, was appointed a Laboratory Fellow in the Theory Division. A foreign associate of the Cosmology Program of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research, Zurek also served as a member of the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute. He has lectured at numerous institutes and universities both in the U.S. and abroad, and has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he recently co-organized and directed the Quantum Coherence and Decoherence as well as the Quantum Computing and Chaos Programs at UCSB’s Institute for Theoretical Physics.

His research interests include decoherence, physics of quantum and classical information, foundations of statistical and of quantum physics, and astrophysics. Among the books he has edited or co-edited are Physical Origins of Time Asymmetry, Complexity, Entropy, and the Physics of Information, and Quantum Theory and Measurement.

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