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One Hundred Years of Superconductivity

Physicist's Talk at UC Riverside Will Discuss Superconductivity

Chandra Varma to give Faculty Research Lecture, the highest honor given by the UCR Academic Senate

(May 23, 2011)

Chandra Varma is a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy and Chancellor’s Chair at UC Riverside.  Photo credit: Varma lab, UC Riverside.Enlarge

Chandra Varma is a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy and Chancellor’s Chair at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Varma lab, UC Riverside.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Chandra Varma, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy and Chancellor’s Chair at the University of California, Riverside, will give the 59th Faculty Research Lecture at 3:30 p.m., June 3, 2011, in the Genomics Auditorium (Room 1102A, Genomics Building).

Titled “One Hundred Years of Superconductivity” to recognize the 100th anniversary of the discovery of superconductivity, the lecture is hosted by the UCR Academic Senate.

Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with near-zero resistance below a specific temperature, known as the critical temperature. They typically find use in electric power transformers and magnetic resonance imaging machines.

Research on superconductivity has been an enormous scientific enterprise, with more than 12 researchers working on it having won Nobel prizes. Its understanding has changed scientists’ view of matter around us – from ordinary metals to nuclei to neutron stars to elementary particle physics.

Twenty-five years ago, in 1986, superconductivity was discovered in a new set of metals at temperatures which are much higher than in earlier metals.

“These new class of metals cannot be understood by the earlier theories of metals and superconductors,” explained Varma, an international expert on superconductivity. “So there is much excitement towards developing a theory to understand the new discoveries.”

In the lecture, he will explain the state of physics at the turn of the 20th century as well as how puzzling the phenomenon of superconductivity was in its context. He will explain, too, the simple, general principles which led to an understanding of superconductivity.

“I will also point out the issues involved in the new discoveries made in 1986, and explain that their understanding will probably also be a major revolution in our thinking about the universe,” he said.

One of the most cited thinkers in his field, Varma is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including: honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota; Distinguished Scholar Prize from the Indian Physics Association; Lorentz Chair, University of Leiden, Netherlands; fellow of the American Physical Society; and fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences. Citations to his work number more than 15,000 in the Web of Science.

From its inception well over half a century ago, the Faculty Research Lecturer Award is the highest honor that the Academic Senate bestows.

The free lecture is open to all. RSVPs, requested by May 27, can be made by calling (951) 827-4665 or emailing Tammy Giglio.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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