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In 1963, Nicholas Wheeler, a 1955 graduate of Reed (where he had been Barut’s only thesis student), was hired to replace Bob Martin. Wheeler, after one year of graduate study at Cornell, had received his PhD from Brandeis University–the first awarded there in any field–in 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.

"Wheeler 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-theorists––a development which Wheeler himself (but not he alone) found alarming, as labs fell into disrepair.

Students 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 Wheeler’s discovery, during his first weeks on the faculty, that he is constitutionally incapable of teaching from another person’s 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.

Also 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 of Texas.

As 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 University’s College of Oceanography from 1988 through 1992. Also, for many years Reynolds has been interested in computer applications and stellar models.

"Astronomy has always been of interest to our students," says David Griffiths, "but we’ve 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."

Reynolds 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.

During 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 McCarthy’s campaign in Oregon, one state where the senator was victorious. Delord’s 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.

The department made two significant hires in 1978: Richard Crandall and David Griffiths. Crandall–a man of remarkably many parts, with degrees in theory but the instincts of an engineer of the highest order–was 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 Crandall’s more recent patents is for the Fast Elliptic Encryption or FEE, which has become popular in the field of cryptography.) Crandall’s interests include quantum theory, signal processing, interdisciplinary problems, and scientific computation.

In 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).

Crandall 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 concerns.

In addition, Crandall has written several books that started from an in-house need for materials: Pascal Applications for the Sciences (John Wiley, 1986–co-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, 1996).

Crandall 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."

In 1994 working with Reed’s 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 prime–an 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.

The 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.

David 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 can’t be that at a small college." Griffiths instead pursues his other interests in classical electrodynamics and mathematical physics.

However 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.

Griffiths 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 languages.

Christopher 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."

In 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Roughly 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.

The Reed Physics Department
The Era of Experimentalists: 1911-1963
The Era of Theoretical Physics: 1963-1997
Achieving Balance: 1987-Present
Academic Structure and Issues
Junior Qual
Senior Thesis
The Role of Research and the Integration of Research and Teaching
The Curriculum
Relations with Students
Teaching Style
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