Guth Is Appointed Weisskopf Professor

A professorship honoring the renowned physicist Victor F. Weisskopf for 
his scientific accomplishments, his unique role as an international 
spokesman for science, and his ability to interpret complex subjects for 
laypeople has been established in the Department of Physics.

Alan H. Guth, the cosmologist and particle physicist widely known for 
developing the "inflationary theory" of the origin of the universe, and 
for making his ideas understandable to nonscientists, has been named the 
first to hold the Victor Weisskopf Professorship in Physics.

Both announcements were made by Professor Ernest Moniz, head of the 
Department of Physics.

"Professor Weisskopf's contributions to quantum electrodynamics and 
nuclear and particle physics have been hailed by colleagues throughout 
the world," Professor Moniz said. "No less significant and valuable are 
the humanistic interests he has brought to bear on a broad range of 
issues in science and society as an articulate and effective statesman 
of science.

"As director general of the 14-nation European Center for Nuclear 
Research (CERN), he played a crucial role in promoting international 
cooperation in scientific research and in building what has become a 
preeminent particle physics accelerator laboratory in the world.

"He was a founding member of both the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 
and the Federation of American Scientists, two institutions which have 
been broadly influential in promoting arms control and disarmament. In a 
variety of positions, ranging from president of the American Physical 
Society and chairman of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel to 
serving as president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and as 
a member of the Pontifical Academy, he has played a unique role as an 
international spokesman for science and its role in society," Professor 
Moniz said.

Professor Weisskopf, 83, was born in Vienna and came to the United 
States in 1937 to teach at the University of Rochester. In 1943 he 
joined the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the atomic 
bomb was developed. He has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1945.

He was given the rank of Institute Professor in 1966. MIT bestows the 
honor sparingly in recognition of faculty members of great distinction. 
In 1967 he was named head of the Department of Physics and held that 
post until his retirement in 1973.

Professor Guth's work, which applies ideas from elementary particle 
physics to the understanding of the cosmos, has revolutionized 
cosmology. His theory of inflationary cosmology has become a widely 
accepted explanation of the early universe and provides a new framework 
for understanding the origin and evolution of the universe.

The concept of an inflationary universe offers an explanation of why the 
mass density of the universe is close to the critical value-the value 
that would just barely be sufficient to eventually halt the expansion of 
the universe. It also provides an explanation of why the cosmic 
background radiation, an afterglow from the Big Bang, has an intensity 
which is very nearly the same in all directions.

Among Professor Guth's many awards is one of the the two Julius Edgar 
Lilienfeld Prizes for 1992 given by the American Physical Society in 
November. The prize recognizes an outstanding contribution to physics 
and is awarded to persons who also have exceptional skills in lecturing 
to diverse audiences.

The citation to Professor Guth read: "For his concept of the 
inflationary universe which has revolutionized the way in which 
cosmologists think about the earliest moments of the universe. The 
clarity of his presentations, both written and spoken, have made his 
important ideas accessible to expert and layman alike."

Professor Guth, 44, a member of the Center for Theoretical Physics at 
MIT, received the SB and SM (1969) and the PhD (1972), all in physics, 
from MIT. He joined the MIT faculty in 1980 after holding teaching and 
research positions at Princeton, Columbia, Cornell and the Stanford 
Linear Accelerator Center.