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Quark discoverer to present inaugural lecture at ASU's new cosmic think tank Beyond

March 16, 2007

Murray Gell-Mann, one of the leading intellectuals of our time and recipient of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics, will present the inaugural lecture of ASU's new cosmic think tank known as Beyond, the Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science.

“Murray is arguably the world's most distinguished theoretical physicist and a renowned polymath,” says Paul Davies, an ASU professor, internationally acclaimed theoretical physicist, cosmologist and founding director of the Beyond center. “It's an enormous privilege to have him visit ASU and help establish this annual lecture. The Beyond annual lecture will challenge one of the world's leading intellectuals to think beyond the confines of their specialism, and to offer new insights into science, philosophy or futurology.”

Gell-Mann will offer such insights in his lecture – “Confronting the Future: Some Challenges and Opportunities in Science Today” – at 7:30 p.m., March 20, in the Evelyn Smith Theatre on ASU's Tempe campus.

Gell-Mann is known for identifying the fundamental building blocks of atomic nuclei – quarks – for which he was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics. He entered Yale University at age 15, and went on to make a series of stunning discoveries in subatomic particle physics, first at the University of Chicago, then at the California Institute of Technology.

Following a career in physics of immense distinction, Gell-Mann helped establish the Santa Fe Institute, a world center for the study of complex systems, where he works as a distinguished fellow.

His book “The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex” charts the breathtaking scope of his vision and his deep understanding of art, literature, world languages and ornithology, Davies says.

“Murray 's penetrating insight and encyclopedic knowledge have earned him the reputation of genius,” Davies says. “He's a consummate storyteller and incisive commentator on science, politics, human folly and human destiny. His multifaceted, non-technical lecture at ASU will provide a rare opportunity to share in the profound wisdom of this extraordinarily creative scientist.”

The lecture is free and open to the public, though reservations are required. For more information, call (480) 965-3240 or reserve a space online at (

Beyond is a pioneering international research center in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration. The center is specifically dedicated to confronting the big questions raised by advances in fundamental science, and assisting new research initiatives that transcend traditional subject categories. More information about Beyond can be found at the Web site (