Carl Wieman (left) and Eric Cornell (right) on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus

Carl Edwin Wieman (born March 26, 1951) is a Nobel-prize winning American physicist at the University of British Columbia who (with Eric Allin Cornell, in 1995, produced the first true Bose-Einstein condensate. Wieman joined the University of British Columbia physics faculty on January 1st, 2007 and is heading a well-endowed science education program there; he retains a 20% appointment at CU to head the science education project he founded in Colorado.[1]

In a Time magazine article (April 10, 2000), Wieman was quoted, "We get to within a billionth of a degree of absolute zero."

Wieman was born in Corvallis, Oregon and graduated from Corvallis High School. Wieman earned his B.S. in 1973 from MIT and his PhD. from Stanford University in 1977; he was also given a Doctorate of Science (Honorary) from the University of Chicago in 1997. He was awarded the Lorentz Medal in 1998. In 2001, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Cornell and Wolfgang Ketterle. In 2004, he was named United States Professor of the Year among all doctoral and research universities.

In the last several years, Wieman has been particularly involved with efforts at improving science education and has conducted educational research on science instruction. Wieman currently serves as Chair of the Board on Science Education of the National Academy of Sciences. He has used and promotes Eric Mazur's pedagogical system called "peer instruction", where teachers repeatedly ask multiple-choice concept questions during class, and students reply on the spot with little wireless "clicker" devices. If a large proportion of the class chooses a wrong answer, students discuss among themselves and reply again.[2]

Wieman was a student of Theodor W. Hänsch who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005.


  1. ^ CU-Boulder News Release, 20 March 2006
  2. ^ Trading Research for Teaching, Inside Higher Ed, 7 April 2006

Selected publications

Donley, Elizabeth A.; Neil R. Claussen, Simon L. Cornish, Jacob L. Roberts, Eric A. Cornell1 and Carl E. Wieman (19 July 2001). "Dynamics of Collapsing and Exploding Bose−Einstein Condensates". Nature 412: 295-299.

Walker, Thad; David Sesko and Carl Wieman (1990). "Collective Behavior of Optically Trapped Neutral Atoms". Phys. Rev. Lett. 64 (4): 408–411. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.64.408.

Tanner, Carol E.; Carl Wieman (1988). "Precision Measurement of the Hyperfine Structure of the 133Cs 6P3/2 State". Phys. Rev. A 38 (3): 1616–1617. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevA.38.1616.


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