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Photo of Sidney Nagel SIDNEY NAGEL

Sidney Nagel received his B.A. from Columbia University in 1969 and his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University in 1974. From 1974 to 1976 he was a Research Associate at Brown University. In 1976 he moved to the University of Chicago where he has remained. He was the director of the University of Chicago Materials Research Laboratory from 1987 to 1991 and is currently the Louis Block Professor in the Physical Sciences.

Sidney has worked on several projects which deal in different ways with disordered, non-linear and out-of-equilibrium systems. Initially his work focused on experimental studies of the glass transition occurring when a liquid is supercooled into an amorphous solid. His interests subsequently broadened to include granular materials. The question which his current research asks is whether some of the physics that is inherent in the glass transition can be thought of as analogous to what happens when flowing particles under shear suddenly become jammed and resist further motion. Along a somewhat related line of research, he has been studying the singularities that occur in the interface motion in hydrodynamic flows. A drop falling from a faucet is a common example of singularity formation as the liquid fissions into two or more pieces.

Sidney was recently awarded the 1999 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize for his innovative studies of disordered systems ranging from structural glasses to granular materials. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship from 1979 to 1981. He has been honored by selection to receive the 1996 Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Klopsteg Memorial Lectureship of the American Association of Physics Teacher, in 1998.

See Sidney Nagel's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
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