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Dean's Lecture, 4/3

Originally Posted on admin, April 3, 2009

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Santa Fe 
Dean's Lecture, 4/3: “Faraday's Gold: In Pursuit of the Very Small”

WHO: Ryan D. Tweney, Bowling Green State University, Department of Psychology

WHAT: Dean’s Lecture Series

TITLE: “Faraday's Gold: In Pursuit of the Very Small”

WHERE: Great Hall, Peterson Student Center, St. John’s College

WHEN: Friday, April 3, 8 p.m.

DETAILS: This lecture is free of charge, open to the public, and followed by a question and answer period.

In 1856, Michael Faraday spent most of the year in research on the color of gold metal. Gold has unusual optical properties that had long interested Faraday. It appears yellow-gold by reflected light, but thin films of gold are green and sometimes other colors. What causes this unusual behavior? Is it a clue to the nature of light and its interaction with matter? Faraday did not entirely answer these questions, but the research resulted in the first preparations of a metallic gold colloid, the first identification of the scattering of light by a colloid, and the final development of his field theory. Tweney’s talk will describe a "detective story" in which Faraday's actual gold specimens are discovered, and his procedures then recreated. The project reveals the depth and unity of Faraday's thought and provides a "hands-on" view of his research practices.

Ryan D. Tweney (BA, Chicago; MA & PhD, Wayne State) is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Bowling Green State University. His research and teaching center on the thinking processes of scientists, using a variety of experimental and cognitive-historical approaches. He has published extensively on the laboratory and theoretical methods of Michael Faraday. A pioneer in the use of replication to understand important historical scientific research, he is currently developing a cognitive model of the use of mathematics by James Clerk Maxwell.