Richard N. Zare, the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University, will give the Harry S. Kieval Lecture In Physics at Cornell on Monday, March 31. The lecture, "Laboratory Measurements of Extraterrestrial Visitors," will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall. Refreshments will be available from 4 to 4:20 p.m. in the first floor hallway.
Zare, chairman of the National Science Board and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, was a member of the research group that reported last year that a Martian meteorite contains fossilized evidence of microbial life. Zare's chemistry laboratory provided the technique, called laser mass spectrometry, for analyzing the meteorite.
In this technique, an infrared laser strikes a small sample of the meteorite, causing surface molecules to vaporize and rise. An ultraviolet laser illuminates the expanding vapor cloud, and the chemical mass of the organic molecules are weighed, revealing their identity.
The lecture, designed for undergraduate students and members of the public who have a basic scientific knowledge, is funded through a bequest of the late Dr. Harry S. Kieval ('36). Kieval, a longtime professor of mathematics at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., died in 1994. In addition to this lecture, his estate provided continuing funding to Cornell for a similar lecture in mathematics, as well as annual prizes awarded to outstanding seniors in both physics and math.