J. James Woods - Lectures in the Sciences & Mathematics

2002 - 2003 Series

Physicist, Columbia University

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Brian Green

Dinosaur Paleontologist

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Robert Bakker

Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Dr. V.S. Ramachandran is a pioneer in the field of experimental neurology. His work has explored a diverse set of phenomena, including phantom limbs, the neurological basis of visual illusions, and the perception of art. In his critically acclaimed book Phantoms in the Brain, Dr. Ramachandran describes many of the simple yet telling experiments that he has developed to help us understand the neurological basis of some of the most puzzling of cognitive and perceptual phenomena. His work has been featured on the PBS series Nova. Dr. Ramachandran's lecture at Butler will be based upon his book.

Dr. Ramachandran is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and a professor with the Psychology Department and the Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute. He received his MD from Stanley Medical College and his PhD from Trinity College at the University of Cambridge.

Chemistry's Essential Tension: The Same and Not The Same

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Chemist and Nobel Prize Winner, Cornell University

Chemistry, poised between the physical and biological universes, doesn't deal with the infinitely small or large. It is very much on the human scale, and from that derives its great interest and its problems. In this generously illustrated lecture several views of chemistry will be presented: First of all, chemistry is, as it has always been, the art, craft, business of substances and their transformations. It is now also the science of molecules, both simple and complex -- chemists always think simultaneously of macroscopic substances and microscopic molecules changing. One must also look at people's perception of chemistry, in terms of its benefits, yes, but also in terms of its risks. Indeed, there is no way that a human activity so closely tied to change can be viewed without passion by people. This deeply democratizing science is full of tensions, which will be explored in this lecture. As will the strong element of creation or synthesis in chemistry, which brings chemistry close to the arts.

Roald Hoffmann was born in 1937 in Zloczow, Poland. Having survived the war, he came to the U. S. in 1949, and studied chemistry at Columbia University and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1962). Since 1965 he is at Cornell University, now as the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters. He has received many of the honors of his profession, including the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with Kenichi Fukui).

"Applied theoretical chemistry" is the way Roald Hoffmann likes to characterize the particular blend of computations stimulated by experiment and the construction of generalized models, of frameworks for understanding, that is his contribution to chemistry.

Dr. Hoffmann also writes essays and poems. Two of his poetry collections, "The Metamict State" (1987) and "Gaps and Verges" (1990), have been published by the University Presses of Florida.

In 1993 the Smithsonian Institution Press published "Chemistry Imagined". A unique art/science/literature collaboration of Roald Hoffmann with artist Vivian Torrence, "Chemistry Imagined" reveals the creative and humanistic f sparks of the molecular science. In 1995, Columbia University Press published "The Same and Not the Same", a thoughtful account of the dualities that lie under the surface of chemistry. There will be German, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese editions of this book. In 1997 W.H. Freeman published Old Wine, New Flasks; Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition, by Roald Hoffmann and Shira Leibowitz Schmidt, a book of the intertwined voices of science and religion. Dr. Hoffmann is also is the presenter of a television course, "The World of Chemistry", now aired on many PBS stations and abroad.

This brief biography is taken from the Jewish Studies web site at Cornell University. For a fuller biography as well as access to Dr. Hoffman's Nobel lecture, visit the Nobel Foundation's e-museum.