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Origins Project plans two interactive, virtual events with visiting Nobel laureates

January 07, 2013

The Origins Project at Arizona State University is planning two interactive, virtual events with visiting professors this semester. Both visiting professors – Frank Wilczek and Sidney Altman – are Nobel laureates.

The first event is set to take place at 5 p.m., Jan. 8, and will include Wilczek, a theoretical physicist and mathematician at MIT. He will invite questions from participants on recent discoveries at the Large Hadron Collider, quantum theory and particle physics, and general issues of physics and cosmology during his 30-minute conversation. The event is accessible by creating a free account at

“This is a wonderful way to reach out to the public and share the good fortune of having such remarkable visiting professors as a part of Origins, and to make them available to people in the University community and beyond,” said Lawrence Krauss, director of the Origins Project and a Foundation Professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Physics.

Wilczek has worked on an unusually wide range of topics, across condensed matter physics, astrophysics and particle physics. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics in 2004 for research he did when he was just 21 years old working as a graduate student with David Gross. Wilczek, Gross and H. David Politzer were honored for their discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of strong interaction, which pertains to the fundamental behavior of quarks and the forces that govern their behavior.

The second virtual event will involve visiting professor Altman, who is the Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University. Altman shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Thomas Cech for their work on the catalytic properties of RNA. This virtual event is scheduled for 4 p.m., March 5.

Since its inception in 2008, the Origins Project at ASU – a transdisciplinary effort that nurtures research, energizes teaching and builds partnerships – has explored the origins of several fascinating questions at the leading edge of science. The origin of life, the origin of the universe, the origin of morality and the origin of prejudice, all have been explored in program activities.

In addition, the Origins Project has nurtured connections between science and the humanities and arts; sponsored cultural events including films, music, art and dance programs; and sponsored a humanities symposium. For more information on the Origins Project, visit