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4/ 22/96

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Two Stanford scientists receive Guggenheim Fellowships

STANFORD -- Two Stanford scientists - professor of physics and applied physics Steven Chu and professor of mathematics Richard Schoen - are among the 158 artists, scholars and scientists who have been chosen to receive 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship awards.

Chu and Schoen were chosen from among 2,791 national applicants on the basis "of unusually distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment," according to the foundation. Both received awards of $28,000.

Chu, the Theodore and Frances Geballe Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, has made major contributions in the fields of atomic physics, laser spectroscopy and quantum physics. He has done pioneering work in the manipulation, cooling and trapping of neutral particles by laser light, and obtained the first optical spectroscopy of the short-lived atoms positronium and muonium. The techniques that he devised for laser cooling and trapping atoms and other microscopic objects are being applied in wide-ranging areas of physics, chemistry and biology. He will apply the award to move into a new field of study: the use of atomic force microscopy to observe the movement of enzymes in real time.

Schoen, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, is regarded as one of the leading mathematicians in the areas of differential geometry, nonlinear partial differential equations and the calculus of variations. Schoen, who also has received a MacArthur Fellowship, explores geometric objects and shapes that optimize certain physical or mathematical properties. An example is a soap bubble that forms a round shape in order to minimize its surface area relative to its overall volume. Using this approach, he and a colleague have solved a number of famous conjectures regarding Einstein's theory of general relativity. According to Schoen, the boundary of a black hole, which is called an event horizon, also takes on a spherical form for reasons similar to why the soap bubble does. Schoen will use his award to continue his explorations of how objects behave in highly curved regions of space.

In the last 20 years, 116 Stanford scholars have received Guggenheim Fellowships.

For additional information on the Web see Guggenheim Foundation: http://www.gf.org/

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