Hosting Nobel laureates in Cebu

Cebu Daily News Online, January 10, 2008

It is not often that a university gets to be visited by a Nobel Prize winner and it is doubly significant when not just one but two are coming. And so the University of San Carlos (USC) is pulling all stops to make sure the visit tomorrow of one of the two will go down as another unforgettable milestone in its 413-year history. At 2 p.m. tomorrow Prof. David Jonathan Gross, the 2004 Nobel laureate for Physics, will talk on "The coming revolutions in fundamental physics" at the College of Architecture and Fine Arts Theater at the Talamban Campus of USC. Dr. Gross comes to Cebu as part of a project called "Bridges - Dialogues towards a Culture of Peace" under the auspices of the International Peace Foundation (IPF).

IPF began the project in November last year to bring together recent Nobel Prize winners to a series of dialogues with academics and political leaders in Southeast Asia, in a bid to contribute to lasting peace in the world. The laureates have already finished a series of lectures on science, culture, economics and politics in Thai universities late last year. A select number of universities in the Philippines come next, with USC as the only institution in the Visayas to host the project.

In a sense, we can read tomorrow's event, as well as the one that will follow with another Nobel laureate next month, as a recognition of the growing stature of USC and of Cebu as venue for serious discussions on issues that surpass national boundaries. The next laureate to come to USC is Prof. Finn Erling Kydland, the 2004 Nobel Prize winner for Economics, who will speak on peace, economic development and globalization on February 8.

Dr. Gross' lecture tomorrow will delve around the present state of knowledge in Elementary Particle Physics, as well as the state of Superstring Theory, inasmuch as he is the co-inventor of a new superstring model. He will also discuss the experimental revolutions anticipated at the Large Hadron Collider, which will soon be finished at the Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire (CERN), the European Organization for Nuclear Research.


During the two separate visits by these giants of their field, as evinced by the singular honor non par of being awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize, USC will return the favor by conferring the San Carlos Borromeo Award on them. The award - last given to the outgoing German ambassador Axel Weishaupt - is bestowed on any individual who exemplifies the ideals and principles of San Carlos Borromeo, patron of USC, who built seminaries and standardized the education, training and formation of priests and theologians of the Catholic Church.

The general public is invited to the lecture of Dr. Gross tomorrow, although the free invitation has to be obtained first (due to limited seats) at the USC Office of Research (2531000 loc. 154). A press conference at 1:30 precedes the lecture and I hope media outlets will not miss this opportunity to rub elbows and learn much about the work of a Nobel laureate in our midst, no matter how brief his visit may be.

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