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MPS Senior Fellow Appointed

May 5, 2005

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Wayne Rosing

Wayne Rosing, a legendary figure in the computer industry and a keen astronomer, is to be the first senior fellow in mathematical and physical sciences at the University of California, Davis. Rosing will work with J. Anthony Tyson, professor of physics, on the proposed Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

Rosing's resume includes some of the biggest-name companies in Silicon Valley and some of the most significant advances of the past three decades. He was until recently senior vice president for engineering and is now an adviser at Google. Early in his career, he held positions at Digital Equipment Corporation and Data General. At Apple, he led the team that developed Apple Lisa, the first commercial computer with a graphical interface, launched in 1983. At Sun Microsystems he launched the SPARC workstation and founded a subsidiary company, Sun Microsystems Laboratories. As president of another Sun spin-off, FirstPerson, he headed the effort to create the Java Web-programming language.

"Wayne Rosing has made transformational contributions to the computer industry. We expect him, as a senior fellow of mathematical and physical sciences at UC Davis, to make equally transformational contributions to the field of his passion -- cosmology," said Winston Ko, dean of the division of mathematical and physical sciences.

The position of senior fellow of mathematical and physical sciences, which is unpaid, recognizes individuals of outstanding achievement who are actively involved in programs in the division, and whose work promises extraordinary advances of international impact. The appointment is made at the discretion of the dean and continues as long as the fellow is actively involved with the program.

Rosing's expertise in engineering and management, as well as his keen interest in astronomy, will bring benefits to all phases of the LSST project, Tyson said.

"We're in a period of remarkable progress in cosmology, thanks to both connections with high-energy physics and to revolutionary advances in technology. Wayne has been responsible for many of those advances," Tyson said.

"I'm extremely interested in this project," Rosing said. "The LSST pushes the envelope in every respect, and I hope that I can contribute in many ways."

The LSST is intended to look for light from distant galaxies that has been bent by gravity to detect the mysterious dark matter and dark energy thought to make up most of the universe. When completed, possibly by 2012, it will be able to survey the entire visible sky every three nights, taking exposures every 10 seconds. Its three billion-pixel digital camera will generate 30 terabytes of data per night. Plans for the telescope call for all that data to be immediately available to the public.

Because of its rapid coverage of the sky, the telescope will also enable astronomers to find and investigate fast-moving or short-lived celestial objects, such as comets, asteroids or gamma ray bursts.

"It will open entirely new windows on our universe," said Tyson, director of the LSST project team that is designing and building the telescope.

"It's the most important question in all of physics -- what is this unseen matter and energy?" Rosing said.

Rosing said that he's been interested in astronomy since grade school, when he built his own telescopes. Astronomy led him into physics, math and computer programming, and eventually into the computer industry. That background has been the anchor of his career, he said.

Rosing became interested in the LSST after meeting Tyson last year and helped to set up some connections between the telescope project and engineers at Google.

Before joining Google, he was chief technology officer and vice president of engineering at Caere Corporation, a company making optical recognition technology. As senior vice president for engineering at Google, Rosing was responsible for hundreds of technologists around the world working in small teams on different projects.

Between leaving Sun in 1994 and joining Caere Corp. in 1996, Rosing worked on his own astronomy projects. He built telescopes and control systems for a number of observatories and is a co-principal investigator, with John Gaustad of Swarthmore College, on an NSF-funded project to survey the interstellar medium at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. He also founded the Las Cumbres Observatory, now located near his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Members of the LSST Corporation include Research Corporation, a private foundation; the University of Arizona, the University of Washington and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory; Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Stanford University, UC Davis, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Johns Hopkins University.

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