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Nobel Laureate underscores importance of investment in basic research
Date:5/22/2009

ARLINGTON, VA - Dr. William Phillips, an Office of Naval Research (ONR) funded Nobel Prize-winning physicist, delivered the final lecture at ONR's spring distinguished lecture series May 19. Phillips' compelling presentation, titled "Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff," highlighted the importance of basic research and ONR's legacy of support for innovative scientists.

Among the attendees at Phillips' lecture were Dr. Delores M. Etter, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, and Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr, Jr., Chief of Naval Research.

"Dr. Phillips' Nobel Prize-winning work is an excellent example of the type of investments ONR makes in basic research," noted Etter, who now serves as Director of the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education at Southern Methodist University. "In particular, his achievements punctuate the vital importance of a long-term approach to developing future science and technologies (S&T) that are based upon solid fundamental research."

Dr. Phillips is a pioneer and leading researcher in laser cooling and trapping of atoms at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His fundamental studies were used to develop applications for new kinds of physics measurements and processes such as high resolution spectroscopy, atomic clocks, atomic collisions, atom optics, bio-molecular interactions, and atomic-scale and nano-scale fabrication.

Phillips asserted, "ONR is different among the federal S&T organizations because it gives science a chance. A program officer with vision can say 'I think this is a great idea and I'm going to fund it.' The recognition of the importance of basic research in support of mission goals can lead to mission success where a more tightly focused vision might not." He summed it up by saying, "ONR's style has intrinsic and high value."

Ultimately, Phillips and two colleagues were awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics. His
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Contact: Peter Vietti
onrcsc@onr.navy.mil
703-588-2167
Office of Naval Research
Source:Eurekalert  

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