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Department of Physics

Ernest Fox Nichols

Ernest Fox NicholsB.S. in Physics, 1888 from Kansas State University

Ernest Fox Nichols was born in 1869 and taught at home by his mother, unable to attend school. After being orphaned at age 15 , he came to Manhattan and qualified for entrance to Kansas Agricultural College in 1884. After compiling an outstanding undergraduate record, he graduated in 1888 and went on to earn a D. Sc. Degree from Cornell in 1893 and did his postgraduate work at the University of Berlin. Dr. Nichols was a Professor of Physics at several prestigious universities including Colgate, Dartmouth, Columbia and Yale. He also served as President of Dartmouth and M.I.T.

Professor Nichols was a pioneer in studying the far infrared. Dr. Nichols and his collaborators developed many novel techniques for producing and observing far infrared waves. These developments culminated when Nichols and Tear, in 1917, produced infrared waves up to 0.42 mm wavelength and radio waves down to 0.22 mm wavelength, demonstrating the overlap of infrared and radio waves.

Nichols published a paper about his infrared studies on page 1 of Volume 1 of The Physical Review, the research journal of the American Physical Society.

The KSU Physics Department honored Dr. Nichols' accomplishments by starting the Ernest Fox Nichols Lecture Series which honors distinguished Physics alumni from K-State.