The Virginia Tech College of Science is presenting two J. Mark Sowers Distinguished Lecture Series events this month with Colin Camerer speaking about game theory and its use in the sciences and Gerard ‘t Hooft discussing gravity and black holes in the subatomic world.

Camerer is the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics, the T&C Chen Center for Social and Decision Neuroscience leadership chair, and director of the T&C Chen Center for Social and Decision Neuroscience at Caltech. He is considered a pioneer in behavioral economics and neuroeconomics, with his research focusing on how psychological forces and their deeper neuroscientific foundations influence economic decisions involving individuals and markets. 

He is a past president of the Society for Neuroeconomics, serving 2005 to 2006; was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2013; and is author of the book “Behavioral Game Theory: Experiments in Strategic Interaction.”

His talk will focus on “Game theory in the laboratory, field, and in the brain.” It will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Graduate Life Center Auditorium on the Virginia Tech campus.

A co-winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics, ‘t Hooft is a Dutch theoretical physicist and professor at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. His Nobel came for his work in “elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions,” or two of the known fundamental interactions of nature.

“All experimental observations and theoretical reconstructions point towards one well accepted picture of the sub-atomic world: there are three types of particles, united in the Standard Model,” ‘t Hooft said. “This model is clean and logically coherent. In contrast, gravitational forces acting on individual particles are far too weak to observe, and a completely consistent theoretical description of these is not known. Even more mysterious is the question what role the tiniest possible black holes should play in the world of the elementary particles. Wild speculations abound, but we are making progress.” His talk will focus on that progress.

His talk will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16, also at the Graduate Life Center Auditorium.

Both lectures are free and open to the public. No RSVP is needed.

The Sowers lecture series launched in 2017 with debut speaker Professor David Reitze, physicist and executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Project at California Institute of Technology. Since then, eight other renowned scientists, including Steven Strogatz of Cornell University, have visited Virginia Tech to share innovative ideas in scientific fields.

The lecture series is funded by Sowers, a Richmond, Virginia-based businessman and longtime supporter of the College of Science, and his wife, Debi. “I hope that people will be inspired by the lecture series and to bring attention to Virginia Tech and its brilliant researchers for the advancement of fundamental physics,” Sowers has said of the events.

Additional speakers for 2019 include: Geraldine Richmond, presidential chair in science with the University of Oregon’s Department of Chemistry, who will speak on Oct. 24.

A programming committee for the series is composed of faculty from across the College of Science.

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