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Physicist to lecture on Nobel work

IMG_0230By: JULIAN HODGSON
Staff Writer

The phrase knowledge is power comes to mind in the case of one IU South Bend Professor who has changed the way we look at the universe itself.

Professor of physics and astronomy Ilan Levine spent five years working with Art McDonald on a Nobel Prize winning project before coming to South Bend to teach in 2002. This week, students get to hear all about that work.

Levine will lecture at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in room 1011 of the Education and Arts Building on the neutrino problem and the groundbreaking discoveries he was involved in uncovering.

“We’re really trying to make it very accessible to the public… and ideally be able to recruit some people for the physics department, but to really let the local high schools know about the level of work that’s being done here.” Said Henry Scott, a professor who helped organize this event.

Despite the depth of the science and physics behind the information being shared, the lecture is designed so non-physicists will be able to follow along.

“He will be doing his best job to make it so anyone can come in and have a basic idea of why this work happened, what it was about, and what made it so notable,” Scott said.

Levine said that the nature of the research itself is what made it so attractive to him. After Levine finished his Ph.D. in particle physics, he began to search for interesting work in the forefront of his field, which is when he came across the research in the solar neutrino problem.
“I knew that no matter what the outcome… a change in our understanding was going to come out of it,” Levine said. “Either our understanding of neutrinos had to change, or our understanding of how stars work had to change.”

In addition to hearing about his work on this groundbreaking research students will hear the story of how Levine became involved with the research project itself. The desire to be involved in the project had him persuade McDonald to bring him onto the project at SNO and “there was no job offer there, I had them create a job.”

Whether it is his continued work in the forefront of physics or his work with students here at IU South Bend, Levine doesn’t seem to be showing much sign of slowing down. Levine said he is currently working on research pertaining to dark matter.
Levine hopes to raise awareness of possibilities that are available while being a student at IU South Bend and to encourage students, whether studying physics or not, to look to the future and dream.

“I think it will help to raise awareness that it is possible to come to IUSB and work in the forefront of science, even while living in South Bend,” Levine said. “You can do very interesting and significant research here.

“I hope that people who are young, whether or not they come here can learn that you can choose a path based on your interests and do really interesting things with your time, whether or not anyone is telling you that there is an opportunity to do them. If you stop and you think about what you really want to do, and you take serious steps to prepare yourself to do them, then you can actually make that sort of thing happen. You can make your path that way.”

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