This question-and-answer session gave students the chance to understand his viewpoint and, in some ways, our own viewpoints. God’s role, for him, is not an explanatory role or a “fill in the gaps” role in the way ancient mythology was used to explain the natural world; rather, it provides not only a moral foundation but a connection to something higher, something beyond us. Phillips also gave a seminar for physics students that served as a continuation of his Anderson Lecture, detailing exactly how laser cooling works and the different ways in which it can be done.
The two day period with Phillips on campus were a rich, vibrant, intellectually stimulating time not only for physics students but for everyone who attended his various talks and sessions. There is at least one tangible souvenir of his time here – the trashcan that exploded during his lecture in Swasey. The plastic bottle – or, rather, the mangled top half of it – is still lodged inside the can, protruding out. Next to this protrusion are a few words from Phillips: “To the Denison physics students—always keep a child-like curiosity and love for learning. –Bill Phillips”
Patrick Banner ’18 is a second-year physics major from South Bloomfield, Ohio. Editor of The Adytum yearbook and foreign languages enthusiast, Patrick’s future goals are in particle physics and theoretical physics, the fundamental laws of the universe.