After a BS in Engineering Physics from NYU, I started graduate school at Columbia, expecting to stay for only a year, and use up what was left of my GI Bill entitlement. But finding I enjoyed research much more than coursework, I went on to complete a PhD studying microwave molecular spectra. It was my first serious use of quantum theory. After a postdoc at UC Berkeley investigating electron motion in metals (Fermi surfaces), I looked for an industrial research job, which was always my intention.
I went to work at the research labs of RCA, at the time the world’s largest electronics company. (Years after I left, RCA was acquired by GE. “RCA” is today just a trademark.) For almost a decade at RCA Labs I variously worked on the behavior of electrons in semiconductors, plasmas in solids, and superconductivity. I was also involved with projects more directly concerned with RCA’s commercial interests. In my last years at RCA, I headed the General Research Group, which encompassed those research projects not yet identified with a specific RCA product.
Leaving industrial research was not an easy decision. I was happy there. But academia would be a new experience. At UC Santa Cruz, I became chair of the Physics Department and continued research on superconductivity. Over the years, I held a variety of administrative positions. For a couple of years, my research focused on a biophysics problem, analyzing a mechanism animals might use to detect the earth’s magnetic field.
A colleague and I each wanted to increase the amount of consulting we did, and therefore started a consulting company. It had limited business, none actually, until a friend with extensive government and industry connections came to Santa Cruz and took over as company president. For a good part of each year for the next eight, I led consulting projects for government, industry, and public utilities. The consulting company morphed into a specialty semiconductor chip design company, and my contact became peripheral.
Teaching a physics course addressed to liberal arts students, I became intrigued by the mysteries of quantum mechanics, an interest simmering in the back of my head since graduate school. When Fred Kuttner joined our physics department, we realized our common interest in the foundations of quantum mechanics, and that became our joint research. It eventually led to the writing of Quantum Enigma.
Kuttner and I, being the two members of our physics faculty with industry experience, co-teach a course, “The Physicist in Industry,” to help physics majors prepare for an industrial career.
After graduating from MIT with a degree in physics, I spent several years teaching high school physics and training high school physics teachers, both in the US and with the Peace Corps in Colombia. Returning and entering the graduate program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, I started experimental research in low-temperature physics. But, wishing to more deeply explain what was going on, I soon switched to theoretical physics. My PhD thesis was on the quantum theory of magnetic phase transitions.
Completing my PhD, I stayed on at UC Santa Cruz, first continuing my research, then managing the advanced physics teaching labs and designing new experiments. At the same time I took classes in business and received an MBA from Santa Clara University.
I went to work in Silicon Valley, first as an applications engineer for test equipment and later in a succession of marketing and sales positions. Initially, I joined a major electronics equipment company, and then two small start-up companies. My last start-up venture, a company to manufacture cell phones in Korea for sale in China could not match the sudden, huge price drop of a large competitor. I returned to academia, first as a business professor and administrator at Northwestern Polytechnic University, a small engineering college, then back to UC Santa Cruz as a physics lecturer.
Fascinated by the mysteries of quantum mechanics since I first encountered them as an undergraduate, I was delighted to join Bruce in research in this area. I also share with him a concern for the job prospects of our physics undergraduates, which led to our joint teaching of the course “The Physicist in Industry.” This concern has also led me to another degree, in counseling psychology, and a future in career counseling.
A concern of both Bruce and myself is the expropriation of the profound mysteries of quantum mechanics by the purveyors of pseudo-science. We have combated this in publications and by many lectures. (One I recently gave in San Francisco was titled “Combating Quantum Nuttery.”) We believe that our book, Quantum Enigma, also serves this purpose.