Lunch with a Side of Physics

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Member Profiles

Lunch with a Side of Physics

We asked ΣΠΣ members what famous physicists they would want to invite to lunch and why. Here are some of your answers, slightly edited for length and clarity.

Jocelyn Bell-Burnell

Jocelyn Bell-Burnell discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967, for which her thesis superiors were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Despite her exclusion from the Nobel Prize, she has had an extremely successful career in physics research and academia.

• Tori Eng Inducted 2017, Coe College
- Photo: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell

Satyendra Nath Bose

Satyendra Nath Bose was self-taught and a polymath. I would ask him about his work on the Bose-Einstein condensate. I heard that he was giving a lecture to students, went on a tangent, and just arrived at the conclusion, which he then sent to Einstein and Einstein published in his name.

• Sam Borer, Inducted, 2015, University of Maine
- Photo: PDM 

Millie Dresselhaus

Millie Dresselhaus was a pioneering woman who quietly and courageously changed the pathways for women in physics. Not only is she a remarkable scientist, but she also took on a personal responsibility to transform the culture of science on behalf of all women.

• Toni Sauncy, Inducted, 1993, Angelo State University
- Photo: Bryce Vickmark 

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan’s enthusiasm for communicating science was as genuine as it comes. He was not only a scientist, but also a great poet and philosopher. The way he articulated his ideas, thoughts, and knowledge was deeply invigorating! 

• Ashish Patel, Inducted, 2014, Georgia State University
- Photo: Michael Okoniewski 

Richard Feynman


Richard Feynman
’s famous three-volume set of lectures on physics was a big part of my formative years as an advanced high school and early college physics student in the early 1980s—they helped cement my desire to pursue a career in physics. 

• Jean Quashnock, Inducted 2007, Carthage College
- Photo: Caltech Archives 

James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell
’s theory of color vision helped me understand light. I also deeply admire him for the way he wanted to make science available to everyone by teaching small community groups. 

• Will Vance, Inducted, 2014, Marietta College
- Photo: Trinity College, University of Cambridge 

Emmy Noether


Emmy Noether
and I are both goofy mathematical physicists who like to teach. I really hope she would think my senior thesis on crystallographic group representations and the photorefractive effect was interesting; she might even have some ideas on it I hadn’t considered. 

• Natalie Nuessle, Inducted, 2016, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- Photo: Bryn Mawr College Archives 

Sir Isaac Newton


I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to have lunch with Sir Isaac Newton, arguably the most intelligent and determined person that physics and mathematics has ever seen. 

• Scott Bakkila, Inducted 2014, Lawrence Technological University
- Photo: Godfrey Kneller 

Neil deGrasse Tyson




Neil deGrasse Tyson has an infectious enthusiasm for science and a way of inspiring nonscientists to care about science that I envy. 

• Kendra Redmond, Inducted, 2007, Carthage College
- Photo: Andrew Toth - Getty Images

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