In 1963, Nicholas
Wheeler, a 1955 graduate of Reed (where he had been Baruts
only thesis student), was hired to replace Bob Martin. Wheeler,
after one year of graduate study at Cornell, had received
his PhD from Brandeis Universitythe first awarded there
in any fieldin 1960. He came to Reed from the European
Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, where he
had for several years been attached to the Theory Division
as an NSF post-doctoral fellow.
was [after Barut] our first avowed theoretician, something
we needed very much," remembers Dennis Hoffman. Wheeler
wrote his own class notes and tended to treat his advanced
students as if they were already in graduate school. He developed
something of a student following and stirred up new interest
in theoretical physics within the department. That circumstance
may have contributed to the fact that by the mid-1970s the
physics faculty were all theorists or experimentalists-turned-theoristsa
development which Wheeler himself (but not he alone) found
alarming, as labs fell into disrepair.
who have passed through the department within the last nearly
forty years are familiar with the "Wheeler Notes"
that have come into being as a result of Wheelers discovery,
during his first weeks on the faculty, that he is constitutionally
incapable of teaching from another persons text. All
of his teaching, therefore, (except in classes intended for
first-year students) has been from notes written specially
for the occasion, material which by now treats all aspects
of the undergraduate curriculum in more than twenty volumes
(with an equal number of volumes of research material). Early
volumes were elaborately calligraphed, but since the mid-1990s
the work has been rendered in a form suitable for posting
to a web site.
in 1963, another figure with lasting impact on the department
was hired: Robert E. Reynolds, a theoretical physicist who
had completed undergraduate and graduate work at the University
a graduate student, Reynolds worked in experimental spectroscopy.
Subsequently, in the U.S. Air Force, he focused his research
on weapons effects. Upon his arrival at Reed, Reynolds conducted
research on the properties of gas mixtures. He became interested
in oceanography while running a NSF-REU-funded program for
summer interns at the Oregon State Universitys College
of Oceanography from 1988 through 1992. Also, for many years
Reynolds has been interested in computer applications and
has always been of interest to our students," says David
Griffiths, "but weve only had one astrophysicist
briefly as a visiting faculty member. When we started to teach
astrophysics, because none of us was an expert, we shared
the teaching of it. But Bob has turned himself into an astrophysicist.
He took the ball and ran with it, and it is now his course,
and a popular mainstay of the department."
has also contributed in a number of ways to the College as
a whole, serving almost continuously on the Committee on Advancement
and Tenure or the Committee on Academic Policies and Planning,
and he has been known, says David Griffiths, for his reliability
and sound judgment. For four years, Reynolds ran the Senior
Symposium, a special multi-disciplinary course for faculty
and students. Himself a poet and writer of short stories,
he was, says Griffiths, "one of the only members of the
science faculty that could have done so." Reynolds also
often represents the sciences on the committees examining
Senior Theses outside the sciences. Frequently, Reynolds contributes
to the spring multidisciplinary program that brings 200 middle
school students to the Reed campus.
the late 1960s, Jean Delord became adamantly opposed to the
U.S. role in the war in Vietnam. He argued (unsuccessfully)
within the faculty that the College should take a strong stand
against the war. Delord also championed the presidential candidacy
of Eugene McCarthy and indeed became the chair of McCarthys
campaign in Oregon, one state where the senator was victorious.
Delords concern about the war also drove him to close
down his experimental lab, concerned that the government,
which had funded his work, could use it for military purposes.
department made two significant hires in 1978: Richard Crandall
and David Griffiths. Crandalla man of remarkably many
parts, with degrees in theory but the instincts of an engineer
of the highest orderwas hired to lend strength to the
experimental component of the departmental program. He had
graduated from Reed in 1969 after writing theses both in theoretical
physics (under Wheeler) and in mathematics. He took his PhD
(in theory) from MIT in 1973. After a foray into the world
of industry, Crandall returned to Reed; he says: "I was
inexorably drawn to scholarship and to Reed because the college
embodied the highest principles of intellectualism within
the pervasive, nationwide anti-intellectualism of the 1970s."
When he joined the department at Reed, he already held several
patents and had been involved in founding several companies.
(One of Crandalls more recent patents is for the Fast
Elliptic Encryption or FEE, which has become popular in the
field of cryptography.) Crandalls interests include
quantum theory, signal processing, interdisciplinary problems,
and scientific computation.
the early 1980s, before it was commonplace, Crandall worked
with President Bragdon and the faculty to steer the College
towards becoming a computer-integrated campus. In fact,
Crandall took a leave from 1983 to 1988 to direct that effort.
By working with Reed alumnus Steven P. Jobs, founder of Apple
Computer, the College obtained one Apple Macintosh per member
of the Reed faculty and, in December 1983, Reed signed up
with the Apple University Consortium, the only undergraduate
liberal arts school on that body. Crandall worked with the
Administration to obtain funding from the Fred Meyer Charitable
Trust, the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and other funding
bodies for a campus-wide network costing approximately $2
million. The College also obtained 25 student computers for
instructional resource centers (IRCs).
oversaw the Software Development Lab (D-LAB) that developed
software for courses and projects on campus, and for sale
outside. Spin-off licenses for software rights have subsequently
been sold to Dartmouth and Cornell, and also some corporate
addition, Crandall has written several books that started
from an in-house need for materials: Pascal Applications
for the Sciences (John Wiley, 1986co-authored by
Marianne Colgrove); Mathematica for the Sciences (Addison-Wesley,
1991); Projects in Scientific Computation (Springer-Verlag,
1994); and Topics in Scientific Computation(Springer-Verlag,
was named Howard Vollum Professor of Science and Technology
in 1988, and in 1991 he won the national Computerworld-Smithsonian
Award for achievement in the Science category. In 1992, says
Crandall, "I had been on leave to conduct research in Silicon
Valley and asked for additional leave to continue that work.
When my request was denied, I retired from my professorship."
1994 working with Reeds President Koblik, Crandall founded
the Reed Center for Advanced Computation, and he remains its
director. The mission of the Center is to "identify and
use new academic applications of computer technology and world
wide computer networks by way of scholarly research." Crandall is working on
computational algorithms that can be used in physics, chemistry and mathematics,
and in particular,
on compression and encryption. He led the team to determine
that F24, the 24th Fermat
number, (a 5 million-digit number) was not a primean
important algebraic problem that had persisted for 350 years.
Another algorithm he developed, the irrational base discrete
weighted transform (IBDWT), has been used to shorten the time
necessary to find gigantic prime numbers, and led the way
to discovering the three most recent world record prime numbers.
Center maintains a close relationship with the College, and
welcomes outside researchers. With Emeritus Professor Marvin
Levich of the Reed philosophy department (now also at the
Center), Crandall recently wrote A Network Orange: Logic
and Responsibility in the Computer Age,(Springer Verlag,
1998), a collection of essays on the electronic future of
the world. Crandall still maintains his relationship with
Apple Computer, where he holds the title of Distinguished
Scientist, and with the Reed Physics Department, typically
working with one thesis student per year and teaching Physics
367, Scientific Computation.
Griffiths, a theoretical physicist with his BA, MA, PhD from
Harvard, joined the faculty the same year as Crandall. After
finishing his PhD, Griffiths held two post-doctoral positions
and taught at other institutions for eight years while hoping
for a position at Reed. He was attracted to Reed, he says,
by its unusual combination of a rigorous and conservative
academic atmosphere and a liberal social atmosphere where
students are treated as adults. Griffiths trained as an elementary
particle theorist, but, he says, "you cant be that
at a small college." Griffiths instead pursues his other
interests in classical electrodynamics and mathematical physics.
Griffiths reputation at Reed and beyond is primarily
as a teacher of extraordinary clarity. "David has an
engagingly informal teaching style which he carries over into
his books, which students both at Reed and elsewhere seem
to find very agreeable," says Nicholas Wheeler.
has written three texts that have carried his reputation far
beyond the confines of Reed. They are Introduction to Electroydnamics,Prentice
Hall (1981) now in its third edition, Introduction to Elementary
Particles, John Wiley (1987), and Introduction to Quantum
Mechanics,Prentice Hall (1995). He wrote these texts for
undergraduates, although they have also been used with beginning
graduate students. They have developed quite a following in
this country and have been translated into several foreign
Melhus 97 voices the opinion of many Reed physics students
when he says, "David Griffiths was a particularly memorable
teacher. When he teaches introductory courses, there is a
marked increase in the number of students choosing physics
as a major."
1991, Griffiths received the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching
Excellence and Campus Leadership Award. In 1997, he received
the American Association of Physics Teachers' Robert A. Milikan
Medal for "notable and creative contributions to the
teaching of physics." "He is a very thorough worker,
and a natural leader," adds Wheeler.
during the 1980s, the Dual Degree Engineering Program experienced
some changes. A program in computer science at the University
of Washington was added around 1981, and programs in electrical
engineering and applied physics or computer science and engineering
at the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology
came on board around 1984. This was followed, around 1990,
by another program in engineering and computer science at
Washington University in St. Louis.
four out of five Reed students participating in these programs
come from the physics department, and typically 15-20 % of
department majors make that choice. In 1981, Robert Reynolds
took over the administration of the program, relinquishing
it to newly hired John Essick in 1996.
Reed Physics Department
Era of Experimentalists: 1911-1963
Era of Theoretical Physics: 1963-1997
The Role of Research
and the Integration of Research and Teaching
Relations with Students
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