Sunday, June 16, 2013

Physics on Father's Day

Happy Fathers Day everybody!!!
In honor of Fathers' Day, here are a few physicists who had kids that went on to become scientists themselves.  I know there are far more examples than I've listed here.  Feel free to add your favorites to the comments below!

William Fairbank and William Fairbank Jr.

William Fairbank Sr. performed one of the first two experiments that verified the existence of quantized magnetic flux[6].  He was also one of the architects of the Gravity Probe B experiment.  His son, William Fairbank Jr. is a physicists at Colorado State University who works on the detection of single atoms via photon burst mass spectroscopy (PBMS)[7].

Another one of William Fairbank's sons, Richard Fairbank, founded Capital One Bank which provided the last bit of funding so that work on Gravity Probe B could be completed after NASA quit funding it in 2008.

Sydney and Persis Drell

Sydney Drell proposed the Drell-Yan hadron scattering process in 1970.  The   process was later experimentally verified at the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron and is important in experimentally determining the parton distribution function of hadrons[8].

Sydney's daughter Persis Drell is a physicist at Stanford who has served as the director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.  She is currently working on science with the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope and technical developments and science with hard x-ray free electron lasers[2].

William Henry and William Lawrence Bragg
This father and son team of physicists discovered that x-rays are reflected from crystals at specific angles determined by the wavelength of the x-ray and the inter-atomic distances in the crystal.  This phenomenon came to be known as Bragg diffraction.

Werner and Jochen Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg[9] was one of the original architects of modern day quantum mechanics.  Specifically he was largely responsible for the matrix interpretation of quantum mechanics.

His son, Jochen Heisenberg, is a professor emeritus at University of New Hampshire where he works on the computational modelling of large nuclei[3].

A Personal Note
My dad and grandfather influenced my decision to go into engineering and physics.  Dad was in the Army Signal Corps before I was born.  Grandpa Pop worked as a welder at White Sands Missile Range and as an electronics instructor at Texas State University.  Talking with them about electronics and computers and rockets as a kid constantly kept science at the front of my imagination.  Happy Father's Day Dad!

1.  Gabriel Dirac

2.  Persis Drell

3.  Jochen Heisenberg

4.  William Henry Bragg

5.  William Lawrence Bragg

6.  William Fairbank Sr. Biography

7.  William Fairbank Jr.

8.  Sydney Drell

9.  Werner Heisenberg

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