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Department of Physics

Fun Facts

  1. Ernest Fox Nichols graduates in 1888 from the department of Mechanics, Physics and Engineering. He later earned a D. Sc. Degree from Cornell. Professor Nichols was a pioneer in studying the far infrared and served as President of Dartmouth and M.I.T. Nichols published a paper about his infrared studies on page 1 of Volume 1 of Physical Review. The department of physics has created a lecture series to honor Dr. Ernest Fox Nichols. These lectures are given by distinguished Physics alumni from K-State.
  2. From Infrared Spectroscopy to E*TRADE: Bill Porter received an MS with a research in infrared spectroscopy in 1952. He will later invent the first portable color video camera as well as several other devices. He also founded E*Trade, the first on-line stock brokerage and the International Securities Exchange, the first completely electronic options market. With his wife Joan, he has endowed a chair for the department head of physics in 2007.
  3. Neutrino Detection: Herald Kruse (Physics, MS 1952) was a member of the famous Reines-Cowan team who discovered the electron neutrino. Herald Kruse began work on this project as a K-State Physics graduate student.
  4. The Science of the World around Us: William Spencer (Physics, PhD, 1960) is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has recently served as co-chair of a committee that has written the National Academy report, Condensed-Matter and Materials Physics: The Science of the World around Us. He was the Vice-President of Xerox and the President and CEO of SEMATECH, a consortium of 12 semiconductor manufacturers from seven countries.
  5. In honor of her parents: The Ernest and Lillian Chapin Chair is established with a gift from Frank and Elizabeth Burke. This chair was established to honor the parents of Ms Burke. Her father, Ernest Chapin, was a faculty member in the Department of Physics. He retired from K-State Physics Department in the 1960s.
  6. Promoting Opportunities: Bunny Clark (Physics, BS, 1958; MS 1963) and a Distinguished University Professor of Physics at Ohio State, has been a leader in promoting opportunities for women in science. She has served on committees of the American Physical Society which address gender issues and encourage young women to pursue careers in sciences.
  7. Fantastic voyage: Christopher Sorensen, Cortelyou-Rust University distinguished professor of physics and university distinguished teaching scholar, spent Feb. 20-March 5 of this year as a guest lecturer on board a cruise ship in South America. The cruise, called the Bright Horizons 16, was sponsored by Scientific American magazine. Throughout the voyage, Sorensen presented five 55-75 minute lectures that focused on physics and humanity's understanding of science. His lectures were "Fire, Fractals and the Divine Proportion"; "A Universe of Light"; "Nanoparticles: The Technology"; "Nanoparticles: The Science"; and "How We Know What We Know."
  8. From the classroom to the State department: Brett DePaola, professor of physics, has served as a scientific adviser to the U.S. Department of State as a Jefferson Science Fellow in 2010-11. Dr. DePaola remains available to the State Department for short-term projects through 2016.
  9. Outreach to Olathe: K-State Olathe and the physics department are partnering to continue the popular Physics Lecture Series for high school students across Johnson County and the Kansas City metro area. The free lecture series provides students an opportunity to learn from university and industry experts about topics in physics, including the latest trends, lasers, the theory of the universe, dark matter and energy, nanoparticles and more.
  10. Open House Fun: The Undergraduate Physics Club takes a main role in organizing Open House activities for the Physics Department. They run various demonstrations for visitors including freezing a racquetball in liquid Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide splash demonstration and much more. This event draws a large crowd to Cardwell Hall.