Nobel Prize laureate Osheroff to discuss Columbia tragedy

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Nobel Prize laureate Osheroff to discuss Columbia tragedy

Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Douglas Osheroff, a Stanford University physics professor emeritus, will discuss the investigation into the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident at 7 p.m. Friday, April 27, in the Satellite Student Union at Fresno State.

His presentation has special relevance to Fresno State because the space shuttle Columbia was commanded by alumnus Air Force Col. Rick Husband when it came apart during re-entry in 2003, killing him and his six crew members.

Osheroff’s free, public lecture will be delivered at the Society of Physics Students Zone 18 meeting, hosted by Fresno State’s chapter of the national physics organization. The meeting continues Saturday, April 28, on campus. The society’s meetings are open to registered members who are students in California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Philippines.

Osheroff was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in physics for his work with the superfluid phase of helium-3 while in graduate school at Cornell University, where he earned his doctoral degree in 1973. At Stanford, Osheroff’s research has focused on quantum fluids, solids and gasses at ultra-low temperatures.

After the Columbia disaster, Osheroff was appointed to the investigating panel. His presentation will describe how investigators determined with near-certainty the physical cause of the Columbia accident and how organizational and cultural causes are rooted deep in the culture of the human spaceflight program.

In previous lectures on the subject, Osherhoff has criticized NASA for continuing to fly the shuttle system “despite the persistent failure of a vital subsystem that it should have known did indeed pose a safety risk on every flight.” And he will touch on the role humans are likely to play in future space exploration.

For more information, contact Dr. Doug Singleton, Department of Physics chair, at 559.278.2371 or dougs@csufresno.edu.

(University Communications student news assistants Nicole Maul and Reganie Smith-Love contributed to this copy.)

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