Williams College will honor eight distinguished scientists at its Fall Convocation this weekend. Morton Owen Schapiro, president of the College, will confer eight honorary degrees on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m. in Chapin Hall. Dr. Rita R. Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), will give the principal address.
The College’s $47 million science center, including the new Morley Science Laboratories and Schow Science Library, will be dedicated Saturday afternoon. The science center integrates the three Thompson Laboratories and dramatically increases the quality of laboratory space while adding much-needed classrooms, animal facilities and a unified science library in a new 80,000-square foot, three-story wing.
Receiving honorary degrees at the Convocation will be microbiologist Colwell, astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell, biochemist Thomas R. Cech, physicist Daniel Kleppner, computer scientist Donald E. Knuth, psychologist George A. Miller, geologist William B. F. Ryan and professor of political science, statistics and computer science, Edward R. Tufte.
In addition to participation in the Convocation ceremonies, each of the distinguished scientists will deliver a lecture.
All lectures, except for Colwell’s Chapin Hall keynote address, will be held in the Wege Auditorium, Thompson Chemical Laboratories, Room 123.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, whose discovery of pulsars was one of the most important discoveries in astronomy of the 20th century, will deliver a talk titled “Tick, Tick, Tick Pulsating Star, How We Wonder What You Are!” on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 8:30 p.m.
Thomas R. Cech, a Nobel laureate, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and discoverer of the catalytic qualities of RNA, will discuss his findings in “Tricks Performed by RNA, with and Without Proteins” on Friday, Sept. 22 at 4 p.m.
Rita Rossi Colwell, director of the NSF and a pioneer in the fields of biotechnology and marine science, will deliver a lecture titled “The Wellspring of Discovery” on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Daniel E. Kleppner ’53, co-inventor of the hydrogen maser and leader in the fields of atomic physics and high precision measurements, will close the lecture series with a discussion of “Two Hundred Years of Quantum Physics” on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Donald E. Knuth, author of The Art of Computer Programming and a leading figure in the development of computer science as a distinct discipline, will discuss “Dancing Links” on Friday at 1 p.m.
George A. Miller, author of classic papers and texts on how the human mind makes sense of the world and “the magical number seven” – the average number of information chunks the short term memory can hold – will give a lecture on “Ambiguous Words” on Friday at 2 p.m.
William B. F. Ryan ’61, a noted developer of advanced instrumentation for study of the sea bed, will lecture on “The Catastrophic Flooding of the Black Sea: Any Resonance to the Story of Noah?” on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Edward R. Tufte, the preeminent authority on the visual display of data and author of such books as The Visual Display of Quantitative Information and Envisioning Information, will deliver a talk on “Visual Explanations” on Friday at 3 p.m.