Montage of our solar system
Montage of our solar system. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Art and physics might seem like polar opposites, but the two fields have a long history of complementing one another. That connection will be explored in a pair of free, public lectures to be held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Thursday, Sept. 19, and at Pasadena City College on Friday, Sept. 20.

The lectures, entitled "A Unified View of the Universe," begin at 7 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The lecture will also be Web cast on Thurs., Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. Pacific time at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/lectures/sep02b.html and will be archived online for later viewing.

The featured speaker is Dr. Lute Maleki, a senior research scientist and the supervisor of the Quantum Sciences and Technology Group at JPL. Maleki will discuss how various developments in the arts have contributed to the field of physics. For example, the notion of perspective developed by the Italian artist Giotto di Bondone is essentially the same concept that, once generalized to four dimensions, describes Albert Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity. Leonardo da Vinci has made numerous contributions to physics and other sciences, especially to mechanics. Giovanni Franceso Grimaldi rejected the notion of particle flow of light advanced by physicist Sir Isaac Newton, in favor of a wave picture, by studying shadows surrounding opaque objects.

Maleki has been at JPL since 1979. He works on a number of activities related to low-noise, ultra-high stability quantum sensors, including atomic clocks. Maleki, who holds a Ph.D. in physics, is an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Southern California, and he teaches Physics and the Visual Arts at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design. Maleki has received several NASA awards and is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., which honored him with the I.I. Rabi Award.

The lecture at JPL, located at 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, near the Oak Grove Dr. exit of the 210 (Foothill) Freeway, will be held in the von Karman Auditorium. The Friday lecture will be held in Pasadena City College's Forum at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. For more information, call (818) 354-0112 or see http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/lectures.html .

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.


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JPL/Jane Platt (818) 354-0880