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Unexpected Ultrafast: Nobel Prize Physics

ICTP Colloquium by Prof. John Dudley

25/10/2018 - Trieste

ICTP is pleased to host Professor John Dudley for an ICTP Colloquium on the science behind this year's Nobel Prizes in Physics on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 16:30. The Colloquium will be held in the Budinich Lecture Hall at ICTP and livestreamed on ICTP's Youtube and Facebook pages.

DThe talk is non-technical and suitable for a general audience: Prof. Dudley will discuss the physics that was recognized with the 2018 Nobel Prize for Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland. The Nobel Prize website describes the tools made of light that occasioned this year's prize: "The inventions being honoured this year have revolutionised laser physics. Extremely small objects and incredibly rapid processes are now being seen in a new light. Advanced precision instruments are opening up unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications."

The talk is entitled "Unexpected Ultrafast - Extreme Light, the Nobel Prize and the History of Nonlinear Science." Prof. Dudley is in the same field, optical physics, and he has made particular contributions in the fields of ultrafast optics, supercontinuum generation and the science of rogue waves. He is currently a professor at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon, France.

Full abstract: The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics has recognized once again the importance of light science and technology, particularly the role of ultrafast lasers in opening new fields of fundamental physics and driving important societal applications. Moreover, the 2018 laureates Professors Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland have been extremely active in service to the professional optics community, supporting both scientific societies and international initiatives such as the UNESCO International Year and Day of Light. Despite the fact the ultrafast technology is ubiquitous in many technologies of daily life, its historical development and science remains largely unknown outside the specialist laser community. The objective of this talk will be to correct this with a general lecture tracing the exciting history of ultrafast science from the development of the first lasers in the 1960 to the latest national infrastructures being developed today. Along the way, we will explore the general historical context, the 19th century birth of nonlinear science, the Manhattan project and an unexpected link with poetry and a Nobel laureate in literature. In addition, we will summarize plans for the 2019 edition of the International Day of Light which will be celebrated on the 16 May 2019 with a special one-day workshop at ICTP.