A place to relax, enjoy some coffee and cookies, and explore ideas about our physical universe... for science and non-science types!




Is all matter in the Universe actually composed of inconceivably tiny filaments of vibrating energy?   One of the most exciting scientific adventures of all time is the search for the ultimate nature of physical reality, a hunt that in the past century has yielded relativity and quantum mechanics, two theories that radically altered our picture of space, time, gravity, and the fundamental building blocks of matter.   The latest theory in that venture is called Superstring Theory - and it seeks to resolve some of the surprising discrepancies between relativity and quantum mechanics.

Ithaca College has joined up with the Ithaca Visitors Bureau to feature a presentation on superstring theory by Dr. S. James Gates, Jr., on Monday, February 19, 2007.   The Visitors Bureau is featuring the Café as a highlighted event in its annual Winter Recess teachers festival, February 17-24. Details are online at http://www.ithacalovesteachers.com/ .

While teaching, pursuing research, and writing scientific papers over the past two decades, Dr. Gates has also presented more than 100 public talks on string theory, honing a set of visual aids designed to convey to a lay audience the difficult mathematical ideas that underlie this subject.


Just as a free string can be represented in spacetime as a sheet (or tube), interacting strings can be represented by surfaces of more complicated topologies

The Physics Café is a campus-wide lecture series sponsored by the Physics Department of Ithaca College.   The idea is to grab and hold the attention of science and non-science majors by offering talks on exciting and accessible current topics in physics.   Past Café lectures have featured the time-warping properties of black holes, the exploration of planet Mars, the communication of elephants, and remote sensing of archaeological sites.   The talks are presented in a café environment, where coffee is served and students and physicists can informally discuss new ideas.

The Physics Café regularly draws between 100 and 250 students from IC, so together with the 200-300 teachers from the Bureau event, we expect to attract a total audience of around 300 to 550 people.

Each talk in the Physics Café series is presented by a world-class expert.   These speakers are known for their abilities to communicate with non-scientific audiences, and have won awards for their efforts to engage the public in our search for a physical understanding of the Universe.

The lecture is free and open to the public. There are no pre-requisites!   No requirements!   Everyone is welcome!   Starbucks coffee (caffeinated and decaf.) will be served, along with cookies and biscuits.   An informal talk-back session with the speaker will immediately follow the presentation.

  • For more information on our speaker, please see Dr. Gates at the University of Maryland

Contact: Professor Beth Ellen Clark Joseph
Center for Natural Sciences, Room 267
607 274 3968


Read about former Physics Café Talks here:
  Spring 2006: Visualizing Complex Electronic Quantum Matter - A Voyage of Exploration and Discovery
  Spring 2005: Whose Line is it Anyway? -- How We Know that Space and Time are Curved
  Fall 2004: Seeing Beneath the Soil
  Spring 2004: The Elephant Seismic Project
  Fall 2003: Black Holes: Small, Medium, and Huge
  Spring 2003: Mars Mission

Read the Press Releases about the Physics Cafe here:
  September 18, 2003
September 08, 2003
August 25, 2003
February 03, 2003
January 01, 2003
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Pages written by Michael Rogers and updated on 03-Feb-2006 at the Ithaca College Physics Department in Ithaca, NY..