Science Series highlights Nobel prize winner, Lima native William A. Fowler

Picture 7     paul_sutter

Lima is the hometown of one of the world’s most famous astrophysicists. William A. Fowler won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his efforts to show how all the natural elements in the Periodic Table are forged under extreme conditions across the course of a star’s lifetime.

Stardust: The William Fowler Science Series is planned to honor Fowler’s achievements. Stardust is a collaboration between the City of Lima, the Lima City Schools and The Ohio State University at Lima.

“It is a wonderful fact that Dr. Fowler grew up in Lima, was educated in the Lima City Schools and at the Ohio State University,” said Lima Mayor David Berger. “And working together — Ohio State, the Lima City Schools and the City—we have decided to showcase that fact in order to emphasize the incredible, literally mind-blowing, opportunities created by education.”

Fowler grew up in Lima and attended Horace Mann Grade School and Lima Central High School. He went on to graduate from The Ohio State University before moving to the California Institute of Technology to continue his groundbreaking work in the new field of astrophysics. His theory of the formation of the chemical elements in the universe forms the basis of our knowledge in this field, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in the original announcement of Fowler’s Nobel Prize.

Students in the Lima City Schools have been working on concepts and projects based on Fowler’s work throughout the fall term. Their projects will be on display for the culminating public event at 7 p.m., Thur., Nov. 19, in the Martha W. Farmer Theatre for Performing Arts at The Ohio State University at Lima. Physicist and podcaster Paul Sutter will discuss how we know what we know about Fowler’s work.

“Fowler’s work is important because it puts us in the proper context of the universe. It shows how life on Earth is a part of a larger story, a grand story encompassing the entire cosmos,” Sutter said. “And it shows how we’re connected: we don’t usually think of the distant stars as having anything to do with us, but his work showed that us and those stars were born from the same things.”

Sutter is the man behind the podcast “Ask a Spaceman” and an honest-to-goodness astrophysicist who is currently a National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) Postdoctoral Fellow in Theoretical Physics at the INAF Astronomical Observatory of Trieste and a visiting scholar at the Center for Cosmology and As­tro-Particle Physics at The Ohio State University. The INFN is the Italian organization devoted to the study of the fundamental constituents of matter, and carries out experimental and theoretical research in the fields of subnuclear, nuclear, and astroparticle physics.

During his podcasts, Sutter likes to answer questions that bring us all closer to having complete knowl­edge of time and space, like What would happen if you fell into a black hole? How big is the universe? Just what the heck is a quasar, anyway?

Sutter will be working with the students prior to his visit to campus. Students at Lima Senior will interview Sutter to incorporate his experiences into career exploration projects they are developing looking at as­trophysics and other sciences. Students from the South Science and Technology Magnet will interpret the scientific principles they are studying through artwork. Pieces will be on display in Reed Hall on Nov. 19.


Sutter will record two podcasts while in Lima, one at the public event and a second for a presentation to the Lima City school students at noon, Thur., Nov. 19, 2015. Students from the physics, physical science and biology classes at Lima Senior and eighth graders from the Science and Technology Magnet, West and Liberty will spend the day on campus learning how they, too, can begin to pursue careers in science, tech­nology and the arts in Lima.

Superintendent Jill Ackerman said the project is multifaceted in that it will introduce students to Fowler and to possible careers in science fields.

“Fowler is certainly one of our most notable graduates. Our students will see that they too can graduate from the Lima City Schools and go on to accomplish great things, including winning a Nobel Prize,” she said. “Putting students on a college campus and interacting with Sutter will get them thinking about college and possible careers they can pursue.”

Below is a tentative schedule for the day:

10:00-11:15 a.m. Lima City middle school students tour Ohio State

11:30 a.m.-noon Lunch

11:45 a.m. Media time with Paul Sutter

Noon-1 p.m. Paul Sutter presentation and podcast #1

1:15-2:30 p.m. Lima Senior High School students tour Ohio State

6:30 p.m. Doors open in the Martha W. Farmer Theatre for the Performing Arts

7 p.m. Paul Sutter presentation and podcast #2. Free and open to the public.

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