Centennial Physics Lectures
Lecture 1: Does the everyday world really obey quantum mechanics?
speaker: Professor Anthony J. Leggett
place: Chemistry Building, Area A, Room 204-206
time: 2010年3月4日(周四)03:00 pm

Lecture 1 Does the everyday world really obey quantum mechanics?

By Nobel Laureate in Physics, Professor Anthony J. Leggett, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champion

Time:Thursday, 03:00 pm, March 4, 2010

Location:Chemistry Building, Area A, Room 204-206

Abstract:Quantum mechanics has been enormously successful in describing nature at the atomic level, and most physicists believe that it is in principle the "whole truth" about the world even at the everyday level. However, such a view prima facie leads to a severe problem: in certain circumstances, the most natural interpretation of the theory implies that no definite outcome of an experiment occurs until the act of "observation". For many decades this problem was regarded as "merely philosophical", in the sense that it was thought that it had no consequences which could be tested in experiment. However, in the last dozen or so years the situation has changed very dramatically in this respect. I will discuss the problem, some popular "resolutions" of it, the current experimental situation and prospects for the future.

CV of Prof. A. J. LeggettAnthony J. Leggett was born in London, England in March 1938. He attended Balliol College, Oxford where he majored in Literate Humaniores (classical languages and literature, philosophy and Greco-Roman history), and thereafter Merton College, Oxford where he took a second undergraduate degree in Physics. He completed a D.Phil.(Ph.D.) degree in theoretical physics under the supervision of D.ter Haar. After postdoctoral research in Urbana, Kyoto and elsewhere he joined the faculty of the University of Sussex (UK) in 1967, being promoted to Reader in 1971 and to Professor in 1978. In 1983 he became John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a position he currently holds. His principal research interests lie in the areas of condensed matter physics, particularly high-temperature superconductivity, and the foundations of quantum mechanics.

Memberships of learned societies:

Royal Society (1980)

  • American Philosophical Society (1991)

  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1996)

  • Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (1997)*

  • Foreign Member, Russian Academy of Sciences (1999)

  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics American Physical Society

  • Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) (1999)

* now regular member following receipt of US citizenship in Aug.2001 (dual with UK).


  • Maxwell Medal and Prize (Institute of Physics,UK) 1975

  • Fritz London Memorial Award 1981

  • Simon Memorial Prize 1981

  • Paul Dirac Medal and Prize( Institute of Physics, UK) 1992

  • John Bardeen Prize (with G.M. Eliashberg) (M^2S) 1994

  • Eugene Feenberg Memorial Medal, 1999

  • Wolf Prize in Physics (with B.I. Halperin) 2003

  • Nobel Prize in Physics (with A.A. Abrikosov and V.L. Ginzburg),2003

Main visiting appointments since 1973:

  • Visiting Professor, Cornell University April 1973--July 1974

  • University of Illinois April 1975

  • Royal Society Japan Fellow, University of Tokyo 1973-1974

  • Visiting lecturer at US T, Kumasi, Ghana Sept.-Dec.1976--1977

  • Bethe Lecturer, Cornell University April 1980

  • Visiting Scientist, Cornell University Jan.-Aug.1983

  • Morris Loeb Lecturer, Harvard University Feb.1985

  • Visiting Professor, Inst. of Theoretical Physics, University of Minnesota Mar.-Jun.1990

  • BBV Foundation Professor, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid June 1996

  • Visiting Professor, ENS, Paris June-July 1997

  • Astor Lecturer, Oxford University June 1998

  • Mueller Lecturer, Penn State University Nov.2001

  • Cave Memorial Lecturer, Queens University, Kingston, Ont. March 2002

  • Visiting Professor,Univ.of Florida Jan-Feb.2003

  • Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada Oct.2006-

Community roles:

  • Co-organizer,ITP program on Quantum Noise in Macroscopic Systems, spring 1984

  • Divisional Associate Editor, Physical Review Letters,1987-93

  • Co-organizer,ITP program on Bose Einstein Condensation,Feb.-June 1998

  • External examiner, National University of Singapore,1997-8

  • Co-organizer,Benasque workshop on Physics of ULtracold Dilute Atomic Gases,June 2002.

  • Editorial Board,New Journal of Physics,2002(?)-

  • Board of Reviewing Editors,Science,2003(?)-

  • Editorial Board,Proc.Nat.Acad.Sci.,2005(?)-


  • The Problems of Physics,OPUS series, Oxford University Press,1987 (reissued 2006)

  • Quantum Liquids:Bose Condensation and Cooper Pairing in Condensed Matter Systems, Oxford University Press,Oxford,2006


  • about 100 full papers in refereed journals,

  • about 50 in conference proceedings etc.

Tony Leggett,

Dept. of Physics,University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign