I heard that Richard is gone. I'm very saddened by the news. I already knew him, though not in the classroom, when he was an undergraduate, and then afterwards as a colleague. In those early years, when faculty and students from different and nominally unrelated disciplines were less insular, Gail Kelly, Richard and I sometimes had dinner together at Gail’s house, on Glenwood Street; I’d bring the oysters, Richard the wine, and Gail did the rest. It was great fun, and, with Gail present, the conversation was always animated. --- Once in a while I’d attend his “wild” parties; the liquor flowed, but the music was too loud for me, so I would not stay too long. --- Richard would often ask me to translate something for him from French, or give him the etymology of a word, or locate a quotation by a French author he had come across; the last such quote he asked me to identify was a short paragraph from Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus.” I never found out what he needed it for. --- When he had discovered another prime number, he was so excited that he stopped me on campus to tell me about it; he knew that the import of his discovery was lost on me, except of course for it’s being a discovery. --- Once, in the 1980s, after reading an article on deconstruction and quantum theory, I stopped by his office with my simpleminded questions. That’s when he named me something like “Distinguished Quantum Professor of Henry Street.” --- Over lunch one day, it became clear that we were both given to hypochondria; he subsequently would greet me in the street with, "Hi Sam, are we enjoying bad health?" --- I hadn’t heard from Richard for the past two to three years or so, but I knew he was around, building something complicated or writing a book or urging and guiding students and colleagues in the right direction. I'll miss him.
---Samuel Danon [French, 1962–2000]
Please join us for a memorial to honor the late Richard Crandall ’69 [physics 1978–2012], on Saturday, January 26, at 2 p.m., in the Eliot Hall chapel.
Following the memorial, there will be a reception in the Gray lounge in Kaul Auditorium. The event is informal and open to the public.
The polymath at work. Professor Richard Crandall ’69 [physics 1978–2012] knew how to cut through a tangle of equations to the root of the problem.
The Reed community was stunned today to learn that physicist, mathematician, computer scientist, and inventor Richard E. Crandall ’69 [physics 1978–] died this morning at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital.
The cause was not immediately clear, but Professor Crandall was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
It is impossible to catalogue Crandall’s myriad intellectual achievements on such short notice. He was a physics professor of great renown at Reed and beyond, skilled at constructing fundamental experiments on a shoestring budget (one of his favorite tricks involved demonstrating the Doppler shift in visible light using a couple of old stereo speakers).
Almost any Reedie would tell you that they did not embark on the life of the mind for its monetary potential. Yet few would turn down the opportunity to earn some quick cash by flexing their mental muscle. On this week's episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Daniel Herman '15 did just that.
Daniel was well prepared for the show: having been on academic quiz teams in high school, and currently working towards a degree in math and physics he breezed through the first few questions. The question of which presidential couple had been married longest made him pause (answer: George and Barbara Bush), but he deployed a lifeline and continued on unabated. By the end of round one Daniel had $68,000 in the bank, and one lifeline left.
On a clear Southern California night, Tyler Nordgren '91 stepped outside to take a last look at Mars through his home telescope before stepping inside to watch the landing of the Curiosity rover on NASA TV.
By this time, Curiosity was already slamming into the Martian atmosphere at more than 13,000 miles per hour. After four minutes of aerobraking, the largest supersonic parachute ever deployed off the planet Earth slowed the rover to 220 miles per hour. Then the lander cut away from the chute, firing retro-rockets and searching for a good landing spot. Twenty-five feet above the Martian surface, the lander lowered the rover to the ground and fired explosives that cut the tethers that held them together.
The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery was packed to the rafters last week as alumni from many eras came together in a hush of anticipation to witness a unique occasion--the unveiling of the French double harpsichord created by professor Nicholas Wheeler '55 [physics 1963-2010] over a span of 26 years, and showcased during Reunions '12: Reedfayre.
Nick became fascinated by the harpsichord (the distinguished ancestor of the piano) while playing at a concert his freshman year at Reed and resolved to build his own some day. He finally began work many years later, in August 1985, when he was A.A Knowlton Professor of Physics. While the bulk of the carpentry and metalwork were completed in the two years that followed, the venture languished for two decades when his teaching and other things took greater precedence. Nick was not able to put finishing touches on the instrument until after his retirement in 2010, after 47 years of service.
"This is a Reed instrument and its first public appearance. It's something I've fantasized about for 60 years," Nick remarked. Returning students and friends continued to ask over the years when and if the project would ever be finished. "It is a doubt which I confess, I sometimes shared: it gave me anxiety because I did not want to leave to my heirs the problem of figuring out how to dispose of a stringless box that looked like a harpsichord, but was unplayable." However friends, such as professor Kathleen Worley, [theatre 1985-] helped along the way by picking up some gold-dipped hardware and wood scrapers.
Never underestimate the power of Reedies. At a Centennial Reunions class on Thursday, June 9, I learned firsthand that all we need to create a tidal wave in our very own sports center swimming pool is two dozen Reedies and a leader with an understanding of classical physics.
Okay, perhaps "tidal" is a bit of an exaggeration of the wave's size. But it's no overstatement to say that we managed to slosh water out of both ends of the pool by doing nothing more than hopping in and out of the shallow end at the direction of Brad Wright '61. Brad gave an explanation of the physics of wave-making before the experiment began (here is an extended version of the video above, complete with full scientific explanation). I confess that between the poor acoustics of the pool deck and the anticipation of jumping in the water, most of the science to passed me by. I can tell you that coordination of the physics of the event required someone to stand at the pool's edge swinging the so-called Pendulum of Destiny, a group of four rubber duckies with a golf balls attached to their bases floating in the middle of the pool, and our willingness to hop in when the wave was at its highest point only to hop back out each time it ebbed to its lowest.