Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Spanish Professor Manuel Gadella, Fall 2015 Heath Visiting Professor

Each year, the Center for International Studies oversees the Heath Professorship, which brings to Grinnell College the most distinguished international figures for a semester-length stay. For the fall 2015 semester, the physics department hosted Professor Manuel Gadella of the University of Valladolid, Spain. Prof. Gadella taught two special topics courses that are not currently covered in the physics department curriculum. The first was on mathematical methods of physics and the second on ''Classical Theory of Fields.''

Prof. Gadella received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Santander, Spain
in 1979. He held postdoctoral positions at Princeton University and the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently Professor Titular of Theoretical Physics at the University of Valladolid. Prof. Gadella’s research spans a wide array of topics, including the mathematics of quantum mechanics, scattering theory and integrable systems. He has authored or co-authored over 125 research papers, nearly 100 of which have been published in peer-reviewed international journals of physics, and two books. He has given talks all the world over and held visiting positions at universities in a number of countries, including the United States, Belgium, Germany, Costa Rica and Argentina, where has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses.

Prof. Gadella's primary research topic, about which he was most excited to present a talk to the College, involves the irreversibly of time. The late Sujeev Wickramasekara was the professor of physics who nominated Prof. Gadella for the Heath Professorship, and he had explained Gadella's work with the irreversibly of time as:
"The essential problem is that all fundamental laws of physics that govern microscopic phenomena do not acknowledge a direction of time—a backward flowing time is just as good as a forward flowing time. Nevertheless, the time in the macroscopic world goes only forward. The emergence of this irreversible, asymmetric time evolution from the time symmetric fundamental laws of physics, both classical and quantum, is a deep problem."
Prof. Gadella planned to present this talk early in the spring semester as well as conduct research with Prof. Wickramasekara through the month of February. Tragically, Prof. Wickramasekara passed away unexpectedly on December 28, 2015. Prof. Gadella as well as the entire Grinnell College community lost a wonderful and brilliant colleague. The Center for International Studies also would like to offer condolences to the family and loved ones of Professor Sujeev Wickramasekara.

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