Reminiscences: Robert W. Wood and the Unknown Chemical

Jarus Quinn

Former OSA Executive Director Jarus Quinn recalls his explosive summer as a grad student tasked with cleaning the lab of famed physicist R.W. Wood.

imageWood at Johns Hopkins University, with his mosaic replica diffraction grating.

In August 1955, I found myself working as a research assistant in the physics department at Johns Hopkins University. I was measuring the spectral data of hydrogen isotopes during my third year as a graduate student. The data were in the form of printouts on rolls of paper ten inches wide that had been installed in a Leeds and Northrup instrument, which recorded light output from a large spectrometer. Many hundreds of feet of paper covered the tables in my office and laboratory.

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