Sidney Nagel to present ‘Reflections on a Liquid Drop’ during April 20 Ryerson Lecture

Prof. Sidney Nagel will deliver the Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture at 5 p.m. on April 20 in the Max Palevsky Cinema of Ida Noyes Hall.

The free public lecture, titled “Reflections on a Liquid Drop,” reflects Nagel’s work as a physicist, which has drawn attention to seemingly simple scientific phenomena that are surprisingly subtle. His work often has profound implications for disparate areas of science, including experimental investigations of drops, pattern formation and granular materials.


Nagel also has attempted to understand the properties of disordered materials through the concept of jamming. His experiments often have focused on the exquisite elegance of physical phenomena in order to interest a lay audience as well as the broad community of UChicago scholars. He said his lecture “will emphasize the surprises and elegance of how nature arranges the texture of our lives.”

“The commonplace is extraordinary,” said Nagel, the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor in Physics. “Examine the world around you, and many things that you take for granted are astonishing.”

Nagel joined the UChicago faculty in 1976. He has served as director of the University’s Materials Research Laboratory, master of the Physical Sciences Collegiate Division, and associate dean of the Physical Sciences Division and the College.

Nagel is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also is a recipient of the APS’ Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize, and of the University’s Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

The Ryerson Lecture grew out of a 1972 bequest to the University by Nora and Edward L. Ryerson, the latter a former Board of Trustees chairman. A faculty committee selects the Ryerson lecturer based on research contributions of lasting significance.

Register for the lecture by April 13.