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09-07-2007

Renowned Scientist to Speak About Solar Storms and String Instruments at Shipley Distinguished Lectures

World-renowned scientist Michael Kasha will deliver the two lectures at Clarkson University's 13th Annual Shipley Distinguished Lectureship, September 17 and 18. Sponsored by Clarkson's Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP), with support from the Shipley Family Foundation, this year's lectureship takes place in collaboration with SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music, due to the wide range of Kasha's expertise.

Kasha will present "The Solar 11-Year Cycle of Giant Proton Storms and Their Geophysical Consequences" on Monday, September 17, at 4:15 p.m. in Science Center Room 360.

He will present "History, Art, Science and Music of String Instruments" on Tuesday, September 18, at 4:15 p.m. also in Science Center Room 360.

Both presentations will be preceded by a 3:30 p.m. reception. The public is welcome to attend.

"We try to find people who are not only noted for their scientific contributions, but who also have interesting hobbies or extracurricular activities. Some are interested in the history of science; some are art collectors, and so on. We always try to have both a professional technical lecture and a lecture of more popular interest."

Kasha, a physical chemist and spectroscopist, is a distinguished university research professor at Florida State University (FSU), as well as one of the original founders of the Institute of Molecular Biophysics at FSU. Described by some as a Renaissance man, Kasha's interests span the boundaries of both science and art.

"As we bask in the warm sunshine ... we are unaware of the tremendous explosive outburst of radiation and particles, which erupt every 11 years from the sun," says Kasha in describing his first lecture, during which he'll discuss why the 11-year cycle arises, what the massive bombardments do, extreme X-ray hazards to polar flights, polar ice melting and more.

In his second lecture, Kasha will bring history, art and science together, as he discusses string instruments. "When we hear the magnificent sound of a violin made by a master craftsman, played by a great virtuoso concert artist ... we think, how can such perfection be improved upon?" says Kasha. "But when we learn that the internal-mechano-acoustical structure is of accidental origin, which, in fact, has been copied for hundreds of years without alteration, modern analysis suggests that each of the internal structures is actually inhibitory in sound production.

Kasha was born to Ukrainian immigrants in 1920 in Elizabeth, N.J. His initial foray into science began after high school at Merck Research Laboratories in in Rahway N.J., working as a personal research assistant to Karl A. Folkers (one of the world's greatest biomedical researchers), in the search for pantothenic acid, and biotin -- now universally recognized. This work was done while Kasha attended the Cooper Union School of Engineering in New York City, in the evening hours 7-10 p.m. each week. He earned his B.S. in chemistry at the University of Michigan in 1943 and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1945, working with Gilbert N. Lewis on triplet states of organic molecules (revolutionizing photochemistry and spectroscopy) and as a plutonium chemist on the Manhattan Project in Berkeley (1944-46).

Kasha joined the Florida State University faculty in 1951, founding the Institute of Biomolecular Physics and serving as it first director from 1960 to 1980. In 1964, he became interested in guitars, beginning his career studying bowed string instruments, using vibration theory from physics, engineering physics and acoustics. Kasha has received the George Porter Medal for photochemistry, the Alexander Jablonski Medal for photophysics, the Robert S. Mulliken Medal for molecular spectroscopy, and many other honors.

This is the 13th Shipley Distinguished Lectureship since the first lecture in 1995. Over that period distinguished speakers from around the world, including six Nobel Laureates, have presented on topics like "Science for Shekels -- Salvation or Seduction," "Sex in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction," "Nobel Science & Nobel Lust: Disclosing Tribal Secrets," and "Electrospray Wings for Mechanical Elephants." Past lecturers have included Sir John Meurig Thomas, Paul Josef Crutzen, Carl Djerassi, and Helmut Ringsdorf.

Matijevic says that the lectures have been very popular with the students. "That's one of its major purposes. We bring in noted scientists from all over the world, so that our students can meet them in person."

The Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series was initiated in 1994 through a generous gift from Lucia and the late Charles Shipley through the Shipley Family Foundation. The purpose of the lecture series is to promote scholarly achievements at Clarkson by providing the opportunity for idea exchange and active learning, as well as exposing undergraduate and graduate students to the most prestigious speakers from all over the world.

For more information about the lectures, contact Egon Matijevic at 315-268-2392.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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