Nobel Conference 49: The Universe at Its Limits Posted on July 9th, 2013 by

Nobel 2013 Logo SquareWhat is the Universe like? How does it behave on the very smallest, microscopic scales? What lies beneath the level of atoms that make up the ordinary matter that the Universe contains? What exactly, is “in there”? What does the Universe look like, and how does it behave, at the very largest, astronomical distances? What lies beyond our solar system and beyond our galaxy? What, exactly, is “out there”? And, how did it get this way?

The 49th annual Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College will be held on Oct. 1-2, is titled “The Universe at Its Limits,” and will bring together scholars who are at the forefront in discussing these questions and, especially, their interconnectedness.

“We live at a remarkable moment in the understanding of the most fundamental questions of science: What is the universe made of? Where did it come from? Where is it going?” Nobel Conference Chair and Professor of Physics at Gustavus Steve Mellema said. “At this year’s Nobel Conference we will explore these questions in the light of recent discoveries and spend time contemplating both their scientific and their philosophical implications.”

This year’s esteemed panel includes three Nobel laureates: 2004 Nobel laureate in physics Frank Wilczek, 2006 Nobel laureate in physics George Smoot, and 1976 Nobel laureate in physics Samuel Ting. All three will receive honorary degrees from Gustavus during the Nobel Conference, which will bring the total number of Nobel laureates with honorary degrees from the College to 100.

The schedule for the two-day event is as follows:

Tuesday, Oct. 1:

  • 9:30 a.m. / Academic Procession and Opening Ceremony
  • 10 a.m. / Frank Wilczek, Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 1 p.m. / Tara Shears, Professor of Physics and Royal Society University Research Fellow at CERN, University of Liverpool
  • 3 p.m. / Alex Filippenko, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences, University of California, Berkeley
  • 6:30 p.m. / Samuel Ting, Thomas Dudley Cabot Institute Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Wednesday, Oct. 2:

  • 10 a.m. / George Smoot, Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley; Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Professor of Physics, Paris Diderot University, France
  • 1 p.m. / Lawrence Krauss, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Director of the Origins Project, Arizona State University
  • 3 p.m. / George Coyne, McDevitt Chair of Religious Philosophy, Le Moyne College; former director of the Vatican Observatory and head of the observatory’s research group based at the University of Arizona
  • 7:30 p.m. / James Gates Jr., John S. Toll Professor and Director of the Center for String and Particle Theory, University of Maryland

Tickets for this year’s Nobel Conference are currently on sale. Individual reserved main floor tickets are available for $115, while general admission tickets are available for $70. Tickets may also be purchased for the Nobel Conference Banquet for $30. Tickets can be purchased by going online to or by calling the Office of Marketing and Communication at 507-933-7520. For those unable to attend the Nobel Conference in person, all eight lectures will be live streamed. More information about this year’s Nobel Conference and past conferences is available online at

For almost five decades, Gustavus has organized and hosted the two-day Nobel Conference, which draws about 6,000 people to the college campus in St. Peter, Minn. The conference links a general audience, including high school students and teachers, with the world’s foremost scholars and researchers in discussion centered on contemporary issues relating to the natural and social sciences. The Nobel Conference is the first ongoing educational conference of its kind in the United States, and is made possible through the generous support of Drell and Adeline Bernhardson, major legacy gifts, and annual contributors.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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