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Lawrence Tech lecture to address controversy over scientific images

Release Date: March 17, 2009

Southfield, Mich. - "Picture Perfect: Persuasion, Politics and Prejudice Surrounding the Scientific Image, 1800-2009" is the topic for the 2009 Walker L. Cisler Lecture, which will be delivered by Harvard University Professor Eric Heller at Lawrence Technological University on Tuesday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m.

The lecture will be in the Lear Auditorium (T429) of the University Technology and Learning Center.

Lawrence Tech's annual Walker L. Cisler Lecture is dedicated to the improvement of science education. Heller, a professor of physics and chemistry, provides this description of the themes he will address in his lecture:

"Over the years, some physical scientists and mathematicians have eschewed diagrams, declaring them as unnecessary crutches for weaker minds. They preferred formal mathematical argument. In recent years, computers have made possible images of stunning clarity and pedagogy, winning over most (but not all) skeptics, and a great following among students and the public.

"Does the use of imagery amount to dumbing down the discipline? Is there such a thing as proof by image alone? Are iconic images good for science? A thread through the science of classical and quantum waves leads us through the prejudices, successes and failures of the scientific image from 1800 to the present day."

Heller has made groundbreaking theoretical contributions in quantum dynamics, spectroscopy, semiclassical approximations, and condensed matter physics. He is perhaps best known for his seminal work on the time-domain wavepacket approach to molecular spectroscopy and on the quantum mechanics of classically chaotic systems. He is the author of over 225 publications.

Lawrence Technological University, ltu.edu, offers over 80 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes 75 years ago, and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech's 102-acre campus is in Southfield, with education centers in Lansing, Livonia, Traverse City and Petoskey. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.