University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Abigail and John Van Vleck Lectures

Professor James W. Cronin

Professor of Physics Emeritus
University of Chicago

Public Lecture

April 11, 2001 4:00 p.m.

"Some Episodes in the History of Cosmic Rays"

Room 150, Tate Laboratory of Physics

Reception following Lecture in Room 216

Physics Colloquium

April 12, 2000 4:00 p.m.

"The Mystery of the Highest Energy Cosmic Rays"

Room 150, Tate Laboratory of Physics

Biographical Information

James W. Cronin, the twenty-sixth Van Vleck Lecturer, is University Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of Chicago. Professor Cronin retired in 1996 after 25 years on the faculty of the University of Chicago. He continues to be active in particle and astrophysics research, teaching and lecturing. Cronin's distinguished career has been recognized nationally and internationally with numerous awards including the Nobel Prize (with Dr. Val Fitch) in 1980 for their research activities during the 1960's while at Princeton University and the National Medal of Science in 1999. The Nobel Prize recognized the significance of Drs. Cronin and Fitch's experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory. That experiment provided the first evidence that particles and anti-particles interact differently. One of the implications of this violation of "CP symmetry" is the very existence of our universe. Recently entire accelerators have been built in the US and Japan to extend our knowledge of CP violation. The National Science Foundation (NSF) recognized Dr. Cronin with The National Medal of Science at a White House ceremony with then President Bill Clinton citing Cronin "for fundamental contributions to the field of elementary particle physics and astrophysics and as a leader in creating an international effort to determine the unknown origins of very high-energy cosmic rays."

Currently Professor Cronin is the leader of the Pierre Auger experiment designed to probe the universe by detecting very rare high energy cosmic rays. This international experiment will assemble the world's largest particle detector array and use it to investigate the highest energy particles in our universe.

Professor Cronin was born in Chicago and studied for his M.S. (1953) and Ph.D. (1955) degrees at the University of Chicago. He received the B.S. degree from Southern Methodist University (1951). Cronin was awarded a NSF Fellowship for the period 1952-55. Following this fellowship he was on the scientific staff of Brookhaven National Laboratory for three years. In 1958 Cronin joined the faculty of Princeton University as Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1962 and Professor in 1964. Cronin continued his work at Princeton until his move to the University of Chicago in 1971.

Professor Cronin has received many honors and awards for his scientific achievements. In addition to the Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Science he has been the recipient of Honorary Degrees from colleges in France and the UK, and held the International Chair at the College de France during 1999-2000. Cronin has been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1982; received the Laureate of Lincoln Academy of Illinois (Medal of Order of Lincoln), 1981; and The Ernest O. Lawrence Award, 1977. Professors Cronin and Fitch received earlier recognition for their work with the John Price Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute, 1975 and a Research Corporation Award, 1968. Professor Cronin's teaching has also been recognized with the University of Chicago Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, 1994. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Physical Society, serving as Chairman of the Division of Particles and Fields in 1985.