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Monday, April 24, 2017

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Physicist to discuss shuttle accident, March 18

Physicist and Nobel laureate Douglas Osheroff will discuss the Columbia space shuttle disaster and his role on the accident investigation board at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18, in A10 Jadwin. The colloquium, "Understanding the Columbia Shuttle Accident," is sponsored by the Department of Physics .

Osheroff, chair of the physics department and professor of applied physics at Stanford University, works in experimental condensed matter physics and received a 1996 Nobel Prize in physics. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration appointed Osheroff a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, which was convened immediately following the Feb. 1, 2003 accident.

In his talk, Osheroff will describe the direct cause of the accident: a piece of foam weighing 1.65 pounds, which struck the leading edge of the left wing 82 seconds after launch. He will explain how the board was able to conclude with near certainty the physical cause of the accident and will discuss the organizational factors that also contributed. In addition, Osheroff will consider what roles humans should play in the future of space exploration.

Contact: Tom Bartus(609) 258-3601

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