Begining in 1983, Dick Crane told readers How Things Work in his monthly column in The Physics Teacher, a journal published by the American Association of Physics Teachers.
In this collection of 70 of his column articles, Crane deals with topics from toys to spider webs, gasoline pumps to traffic lights. In doing so, he simplifies for us the complex physics principles of devices and phenomena found in everyday life. Many photographs and sketches are found throughout the book.
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Horace Richard Crane (1907 to 2007) was one of the most distinguished experimental physicists of the 20th century and was presented with the National Medal of Science by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Crane's early work on nuclear physics and the physics of accelerators culminated in the invention of the race track synchrotron, a design emulated by almost every particle accelerator since 1950. His pioneering measurements on the gyro-magnetic ratio of the free electron are a cornerstone of quantum electrodynamics. His analyses of helical structures in molecules continue to be significant in genetic research.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and in 1934 his doctorate degree, cum laude, from the California Institute of Technology.
Crane was a member of the University of Massachusetts physics department from 1934 until his retirement in 1978 and served as department chairman from 1964-72. During World War II, Crane worked as a research associate on radar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a physicist on the proximity fuse at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He served as the director of proximity fuse research at the University of Massachusetts and as director of the atomic research project for the Manhattan District. He also was consultant for the National Defense Research Commission and Office of Scientific Research and Development.
Crane was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He earned awards and served in key roles for professional groups including service as president of the Midwestern Universities Research Association from 1957-1960, as president of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1965; and as chairman of the board of governors for the American Institute of Physics from 1971-75.
Crane was a columnist for The Physics Teacher, writing on how things work.
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