In addition to Saturday Morning Physics, the University of Michigan Department of Physics hosts other public lectures. Each fall, the U-M Department of Physics hosts the annual Ta-You Wu Lecture, which is one of the most prestigious lecture events in the Department. The Lectureship was endowed in 1991 through generous gifts from the University of Michigan Alumni Association in Taiwan. It is named in honor of Michigan Physics alumnus and honorary Doctor of Science, Ta-You Wu, one of the central figures of the 20th century in the Chinese and Taiwanese physics communities.
On Wednesday, October 22, 2008, Frank Wilczek (Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) gave the Ta-You Wu Lecture. In 2004, Frank Wilczek shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with David J. Gross and H. David Politzer (David Gross gave the 2004 Ta-You Wu Lecture).
Professor Wilczek gave a lecture entitled, “The Universe is a Strange Place.” Over the course of the twentieth century we have constructed a very successful fundamental theory of the behavior of matter. Viewed from this perspective, the world looks very different from our everyday reality. It is a very strange place, and a beautiful one—in particular, we’ve come to understand that the building blocks of matter appear as notes in a Music of the Void. Professor Wilczek described this using a combination of facts, pictures, and jokes. Finally, he discussed some recent discoveries indicating that the world is even stranger than we’ve understood so far, and how we’re rising to the challenge.