Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sylverster James Gates, Jr. Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Sylverster James Gates, Jr. Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Jim Gates, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at Maryland, is the first African American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major research university in the United States.Gates has long been known for his groundbreaking, ongoing work in supersymmetry and supergravity, areas that are closely related to string theory. In 1983, he co-authored the book "Superspace or 1001 Lessons in Supersymmetry," which more than two decades later remains a standard in the field. String theory. Hailed by many physicists as the "Unified Field Theory" that was pursued unsuccessfully by Einstein, string theory is a leading candidate for what is commonly called the "theory of everything." Such a theory could explain the origins of all matter and energy in the universe and may one day form the basis for technologies that we cannot even imagine today.

"Professor Gates is just an extraordinary person," said Physics Chair Drew Baden. "His research is at the very cutting edge of theoretical physics, probing the fundamental structure of nature, looking for exotic connections between string theory and information theory and anything else he can think of.

Sylverster James Gates, Jr.On top of that, he finds the time and energy to give a huge number of invited public talks on science at all levels, communicating the excitement of science, and working hard to demystify. I believe that in 2005, the 100 year anniversary of Einstein's famous papers (one that introduced the theory of special relativity), he gave about 90 such talks in a single year! And on top of that, he finds the time contribute to society as a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), advising the President on science policy, and as a member of the Maryland Board of Education."

Gates said "It is a strange, humbling and numbing feeling to be considered among the company of one's own heroes. While I was growing up in the U.S., the names of the founding Academy 'class' including John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, to those of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster, and Ralph Waldo Emerson loomed like far distant mountain peaks marking the apex of accomplishment in the United States of America. So very many of my personal heroes like Einstein and Churchill have been members of this company. I am stunned to be in a class that includes so many accomplished individuals whose work has had such an impact on my life. It is the highest honor and recognition I have been accorded to be included among this new class of the academy. This could not have happened without the absolutely superb support I have received from the College Park campus. The election is also a signal of the recognition of the quality of the University."

The University of Maryland For Immediate Release April 19, 2011 Contacts: David Ottalini, 301 405 4076 or dottalin@umd.edu

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