Volume 80, Number 52 | May 26 - June 1, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Albert Amateau

Professor Curtis Callan, right, and Westbeth’s executive director Steve Neil at the plaque dedication.

Art and science

The American Physical Society’s representative, Professor Curtis Callan, of Princeton University, came to the West Village last week to dedicate the society’s plaque commemorating the historic 1927 experiment by C.J. Davisson and L.H. Germer at Bell Labs that confirmed the principle of quantum mechanics. The renowned laboratory complex was converted in 1970 to the Westbeth Artists Residence. At the May 19 dedication, Kim Jeung, president and C.E.O. of Alcatel-Lucent, the New Jersey successor to the old Bell Labs, told Westbeth residents that science is a lot like art. “They both change our understanding of the universe,” he said. Alice E. White, the Alcatel-Lucent lab’s new chief scientist, said that while the discovery that elementary particles behave like waves was counterintuitive in 1927, the principle is easily understood among the generation growing up with digital computers. Ben Bederson, New York University emeritus professor of physics and chairperson of the society’s Historic Sites Committee, was also on hand at the Thursday dedication. The ’27 experiment took place in room 7B at Bell Labs, Callan noted. “When we find out where in Westbeth that was, we’ll put a plaque there, too,” he said.

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