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Selected Public Lectures

Professor Ahmed Zewail has presented over three hundred named, plenary, and keynote lectures, including:

Andersen
Bernstein
Berson
Bodenstein
Cavendish
Celsius
Condon
Aimé Cotton
Coulson
Debye
Einstein
Eyring
Faraday
Franklin
Gandhi
Helmholtz
Hinshelwood
Karrer
Kirkwood
Kistiakowsky
Lawrence
Lewis (G. N.) London
Nobel
Novartis
Noyes
Onassis
Oppenheimer
Othmer
Ørsted
Pascal
Pauling
Perrin
Pimentel
Planck
Polanyi
Priestley
Raman
Roberts
Röntgen
Schrödinger
Solvay
U Thant
Thomson
Tolman
Watson
Welch
Wilson
Zewail

Franklin's Vision, Speech at the Annual General Meeting of the American Philosophical Society in celebration of the Franklin Tercentenary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 27, 2006.

On this special occasion of the Tercentenary, I am especially delighted to speak in honor of a polymath and an American icon, Benjamin Franklin. Since his death in 1790, Franklin has been revered, memorialized, and made into an educational, financial, and political icon. Through his collective work this sage has climbed to the apex of human endeavor in the sciences, public service, and statesmanship in international relations. Such great heights for a man of wit and wisdom are reached by very few in the world, both then and now...

The Future of Our World, 5th U. Thant Distinguished Lecture, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan, April 15, 2003.

Over the last century, our world has experienced at times a "beautiful age" with promises of peace and prosperity, but then some imposing forces changed the entire landscape. History reminds us of recurrences, and the current state of the world is not so different that we may ask - what political and economic forces cause such disorder in a world seeking prosperity through globalization and revolutionary advances in technology? Here we will address the need for a rational world vision that must take into account developments in the population of the have-nots and dialogues of cultures. It is a vision of economic, political, religious, and cultural dimensions in world affairs. Only with such a vision can we shape a bright future for our world...

Light and Life, Ninth Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Lecture, Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, Bangalore, India, October 17, 2002.

Scientific research is the subject of this lecture, but I wish to focus here on one of its pillars - the value of curiosity-driven research and its impact on our life, the life of the "haves" and "have-nots". For this scientific endeavour, I will demonstrate my point from the study of one phenomenon that has occupied the thinking of humans throughout history - it is the phenomenon of light. What is light?

Science and Technology in the Twenty-First Century, Academy of Sciences of Malaysia (ASM) Public Lecture, ASM, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 14, 2002.

Since the beginning of human civilization, science and technology has progressed in a continuous process. Fire must have been an exciting new technology for the first humans and to this day we are continuing research to fully answer the question, what is fire? But the search for new knowledge is based on rational thinking, which is fundamental for progress and for making new discoveries...

Dialogue of Civilizations: Making History Through a New World Vision, UNESCO Public Address, Paris, France, April 20, 2002.

The 2002 UNESCO conference, "Science et la quête du sens" in Paris, was devoted to science and the quest for meaning; the English title, "Science and the Spiritual Quest", emphasizes the spiritual dimension, a realm beyond science. Similarly, this chapter, which is based on my lecture given at the conference, is concerned with dimensions beyond science - our human existence in civilizations and cultures that may or may not be in a state of clash...

Time's Mysteries and Miracles: Consonance with Physical and Life Sciences, Albert Einstein Public Lecture, IIT, New Delhi, India, October 22, 2002.

Ever since the dawn of history, humans have been the benefactors of time's miracles, but at the same time they have been baffled by time's mysteries. More than six millennia ago, the philosophy and measurement of time occupied the minds of scholars in the land of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and, even today we struggle with the meaning of time. In this overview, I present some concepts and techniques developed in the science and technology of time, and an exposé of some of the mysteries and miracles that are in harmony with physical and life sciences...