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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


N. David Mermin, Horace White Professor of Physics at Cornell University, will speak on "The Vision of Einstein, the Caution of Bohr" at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 11 in Reed College's Vollum Lecture Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Reed events line at 503/777-7755.

Mermin will explore the question of whether quantum mechanics can provide a complete description of physical reality. It is a debate that goes back to Einstein's famous "EPR paradox" (1935), which was rekindled by Bell's theorem (1964) and illuminated by Mermin's own work, starting with a delightful paper "Is the moon there when nobody looks? Reality and the quantum theory" (1985). He will discuss the hotly contested problems of realism, determinism, and locality in a format accessible to the general public.

N. David Mermin has conducted research in many areas of physics, including condensed matter, statistical mechanics, superfluid helium, and crystallography. He is the co-author, with Neil Ashcroft, of Solid State Physics, a widely used graduate text that has been translated into Russian, Polish, and Japanese. In addition to technical articles, he writes regularly for the broader physics community in such publications as Physics Today and The American Journal of Physics. A renowned expositor with an extraordinary flair for making profound and subtle issues accessible to the layman, he has written two books for general readers, Space and Time in Special Relativity and Boojums All the Way Through. His work on the foundations of quantum mechanics, the subject of his lecture at Reed, has won the admiration of philosophers as well as physicists.

Mermin received a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1956 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1961, both from Harvard University. A faculty member at Cornell since 1964, Mermin has held visiting positions at numerous institutions including the Universities of Rome, Sussex, Nayoga, and Leiden. From 1984 to 1990 he was the director of the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics at Cornell. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and holds various other honors, including the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society.

Mermin's visit to Reed is sponsored in part by the American Institute of Physics under the Visiting Scientist Program in Physics (VSPP). The VSPP makes it possible for colleges to host outstanding scientists from industry, government, and academia. Mermin will be on campus for three days, sharing his knowledge and experience with faculty, students, and the community.