Earnest C. Watson Lecture Series
Established in 1922, the Watson Lectures bring Caltech's most innovative scientific research to the public.
Originally known as the "Friday Evening Demonstration Lectures", this public lecture series was started by Earnest C. Watson, a professor of physics at Caltech from 1919 to 1959, in order to share modern scientific advances with the public. Eventually renamed in his honor, the Watson Lectures continue to spotlight the pioneering research Caltech's faculty is currently conducting.
Watson Lectures are free and open to the public. The 2021-2022 Watson Lectures will be presented virtually on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. at caltech.edu/watson. Register for each lecture online to add them to your calendar and to receive an email reminder.
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Megasupramolecules: From Disaster to Discovery
Julia A. Kornfield (BS '83, MS '84), Elizabeth W. Gilloon Professor of Chemical Engineering
The events of 9/11 spurred Julia Kornfield's research team to begin researching polymers that, when added to fuels like gasoline, minimize the risk of explosion when ignited. These polymers, known as megasupramolecules, change the way liquid fuels flow and could help reduce fatalities and injuries from plane crashes, auto accidents, and IED attacks on the battlefield.
Quantum Matter: Why it Matters
Xie Chen, Professor of Theoretical Physics
Recent physics breakthroughs have revealed that, in carefully engineered materials, quantum effects not only show up in the macroscopic world but also fundamentally change the way these materials behave. Xie Chen will cover superconductivity, topological order, and a range of phenomena in quantum matters that may hold unprecedented power for quantum computers and even for our fundamental understanding of the universe.
When Earth Breathed Deeply
Claire E. Bucholz, Assistant Professor of Geology
Oxygen levels in the atmosphere have increased by many orders of magnitude throughout Earth’s history, profoundly affecting biologic and chemical cycles at the surface of the Earth. In this lecture, Claire Bucholz will explore how shifts in atmospheric oxygen concentrations went even deeper, altering Earth’s inner workings.
Artificial Intelligence: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Yaser Abu-Mostafa (PhD '83), Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a remarkable technology that has profoundly impacted our lives. It now beats humans at some of their own games. How did we get here? In this lecture, Abu-Mostafa will describe the scientific journey of AI since the 1980s, as well as Caltech's foundational role in its development, providing examples of AI's achievements and its potential. He will also address the hype that surrounds AI, both positive and negative, and put it in scientific perspective.
Explore Past Lectures
Find more past Watson Lectures on Caltech's YouTube channel.