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William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation,
27 April 2001

Extent and Forms of Material: 1 cubic foot, including digital BetaCam SP and 1⁄2” VHS videotapes (4 boxes)
Creator: Dr. William Phillips and Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
Abstract: Approximately 5-1/2 hours of video footage documenting an interview with Dr. William Phillips, a physicist and Nobel Laureate (Physics, 1997). Phillips discusses his background, work at the National Institute of Standards (NIST) using laser light to cool gases to the lowest temperature ever achieved, and his memories of winning the Nobel Prize.
Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; archivescenter@si.edu; 202-633-3270; www.americanhistory.si.edu/archives
Collection Number: AC0770
Processing Note: Processed by Alison L. Oswald, archivist, July 2001.
© 2008 by the Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.

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Information for users of the collection

Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an “as needed” basis, as resources allow.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use.
Preferred Citation: [Title and date of item], William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXXX

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In-depth information about the collection

Administrative/biographical history
Scope and content
System of arrangement
Acquisition information
Custodial history
Access points
Container listing

Administrative/biographical history

Dr. William Phillips was born November 5, 1948 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He received his B.S. from Juniata College in 1970 and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1976. Phillips was awarded the Chaim Weizmann Fellowship at MIT to work on collisions and Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) in spin-polarized hydrogen. After leaving MIT in1978, Phillips joined the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) which was renamed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). At NIST, Phillips worked on precision measurements of the proton gyromagnetic ratio and of the Absolute Ampere. Also, he pursued laser cooling experiments which led him and colleagues Steve Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997.

The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation was founded in 1995 at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History through a generous gift from the Lemelson Foundation. The Center’s mission is: to document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation; to encourage inventive creativity in young people; and to foster an appreciation for the central role invention and innovation play in the history of the United States. The Innovative Lives series brings together museum visitors and, especially, school aged children, and American inventors to discuss inventions and the creative process and to experiment and play with hands-on activities related to each inventor’s product. This collection was recorded by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.


Scope and content

This collection contains approximately 5-1⁄2 hours of original (digital), master (BetaCam SP), and reference videos (VHS) documenting William Phillips, physicist and Nobel Laureate (Physics, 1997). Audience participants are students from Ormond Stone Middle School (Centreville, Virginia); Queen Anne School (Upper Marlboro, Maryland); Nysmith School (Herndon, Virginia): and Gwynn Park Middle School (Brandywine, Maryland).


System of arrangement

Series 1, Original Videos, 2001
Series 2, Master Videos, 2001
Series 3, Reference Videos, 2001
 


Acquisition information

This collection was recorded by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation on April 27, 2001.


Custodial history

Transferred to the Archives Center on May 17, 2001.


Access points

Subject/Topical:
Physicists
Lasers
Nobel prizes
Inventions-1980-2000
Inventors-20th century
Physics

Subject/Name:
Physicists --1930-2000
Cater, Anita
Chu, Steve
Cohen-Tannoudji, Claude

Form/Genre:
Mini DV (Videotape format)
Interviews-2000-2010
Oral history-2000-2010
BetaCam SP (videotape format)
Videotapes


Container listing

Box Folder  
    SERIES 1, ORIGINAL VIDEOS, 2001
1 OV 770.1 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 1
Total Running Time: 60:00
Anita Cater, Lemelson Center Education Specialist, welcomes students and provides introductory remarks. Dr. Phillips begins the program by explaining where he works, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and what they do-maintain standards of measurement such as length, mass, voltage, and time. Discussion points that are set forth are: What does it mean to be cold? How do laser beams make things cold? What do we keep cold things in? How do we to trap gases? Why make gas cold? How can we make the best clocks? Phillips discusses his background growing up in Pennsylvania and shows home movies of himself and his siblings. As a child he was curious about the world and how things worked. By showing overhead diagrams and through demonstration, Dr. Phillips explains the use of liquid nitrogen. Phillips puts flowers, a racket ball and rubber bands into a container filled with liquid nitrogen. He removes these items and demonstrates that the flowers freeze and are easily crushed, the racquet ball shatters when thrown on the floor, and the rubber bands crumble. Balloons that were placed in a container of liquid nitrogen come out flat because the warm air condensed. Liquid nitrogen is 77 degrees above absolute zero. Discussion of slowing down atoms and atoms absorbing light. Demonstration of levitron-magnet bottle-to trap atoms. Concludes by showing the first fountain clock made by NIST.
  OV 770.2 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 1
Total Running Time: 60:00
Discussion continues with how to make a better and taller fountain clock. Phillips shows a diagram of an artist's conception of an atomic clock at the space station. A video of the Nobel Prize Ceremony from Stockholm in 1997 is shown. Phillips explains how the ceremony works and what it was like to receive the prize with his colleagues Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannouudji. Stresses that science is not done in isolation and that he was recognized as a representative of a group. Question and answer period with the students. Questions included: Can you clarify the relationship between the levitron magnetic field and laser molasses? When did Phillips decide to become a physicist and work with lasers? What kind of classes does one take to become physicist? When one slows down the atoms, can they be seen? Phillips emphasizes that science is an international venture.
  OV 770.2 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Presentation
2001 April 27
Total Running Time: 60:00
Camera 1
English, foreign languages, writing, and speaking all help in communicating your research.
  OV 770.3 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Presentation
2001 April 27
Total Running Time: 36:29
Camera 1
Tape begins with a demonstration of the levitron. Question and answer period with students. Questions include: Why was Phillips not affected by the liquid nitrogen when it was poured on his hand? When trapping atoms, does the natural frequency of the atom have anything to do with laser cooling? How does one know the atomic clock is right? How did Phillips decide to become a physicist? How did he come up with ideas to invent? Dr. Philips gathers with a small group of students who ask more questions.
Does the light of a laser refract through the cesium atom? What does have to do to get a Nobel Prize? If the atomic clock is shipped to a space shuttle, will it be assembled or disassembled? Do magnetic fields interfere with laser beams? Demonstration of Dr. Phillips pouring liquid nitrogen on the carpet.
  OV 770.4 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.1 for description
  OV 770.5 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.2 for description
  OV 770.6 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 34:55
See OV 770.3 for description
    SERIES 2, MASTER VIDEOS, 2001
2 MV 770.1 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 1
Total Running Time 60:00
See OV 770.1 for description
  MV 770.2 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 1
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.2 for description
  MV 770.3 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Total Running Time: 36:29
Camera 1
See OV 770.3 for description
3 MV 770.4 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.1 for description
  MV 770.5 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.2 for description
  MV 770.6 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 34:55
See OV 770.3 for description
    SERIES 3, REFERENCE VIDEOS, 2001
4 RV 770.1 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 1
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.1 for description
  RV 770.2 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 1
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.2 for description
  RV 770.3 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Presentation
2001 April 27
Total Running Time: 36:29
Camera 1
See OV 770.3 for description
  RV 770.4 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.1 for description
  RV 770.5 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 60:00
See OV 770.2 for description
  RV 770.6 Dr. William Phillips Innovative Lives Presentation
2001 April 27
Camera 2 (different angle)
Total Running Time: 34:55
See OV 770.3 for description

 

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Last Update: 25 Mar 2008

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