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Floyd K. Richtmyer

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Floyd K. Richtmyer

Floyd Karker Richtmyer
Born (1881 -10-12)October 12, 1881
Cobleskill, New York
Died November 7, 1939 (1939 -11-07) (aged 58)
Fields Physics
Alma mater Cornell University

Floyd Karker Richtmyer (1881–1939) was a physicist and educator in the United States.


Richtmyer was born October 12, 1881, in the rural community of Cobleskill, New York.[1] He studied with Perley Nutting at Cornell University; both were students of Edward L. Nichols. Richtmyer graduated with his A.B. in 1904 and Ph.D. in 1910. He taught physics at Drexel University, but returned to Cornell as instructor in 1906, where he remained for the duration of his career. He became assistant professor of physics in 1911, full professor in 1918, and then dean of the graduate school in 1931.[2] He also taught summer classes at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and Columbia University.[3]

When the new Journal of the Optical Society of America (JOSA) began in 1917, Richtmyer wrote the very first article, on page 1 of volume 1, titled "Opportunities for Research."[4] In 1918 and 1919, he served as OSA’s vice president, and president in 1920. In 1928, he published a very popular textbook Introduction to Modern Physics (with E.H.Kennard,T. Lauritsen and John N. Cooper in later revisions).[5] In 1933, he succeeded Paul Foote as editor of JOSA, and he served until his death. He published 11 items in JOSA, mostly in the period between 1922 and 1929.[6]

His son Robert Davis Richtmyer was also a physicist and mathematician. He had a daughter Sarah R. Richtmyer who married John T. Mann, and another son Lawson E. Richtmyer.[1] In 1929 he was awarded the Louis E. Levy Medal of the Franklin Institute for the study of X-rays.[7]

After his death from a coronary thrombosis on November 7, 1939,[3] the American Association of Physics Teachers, which he had helped form, established the Richtmyer Memorial Award, which is conferred annually, and is typically given to educators who have made outstanding contributions as teachers in their fields. It is awarded to those who have not only produced important current research in physics, but to those who have, by means of communication to both students and other educators, imparted information and motivation to participants in the field. Winners deliver the Richtmyer Memorial Lecture.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b Herbert E. Ives (1940). Biographical Memoir of Floyd Karker Richmyer 1881–1939. Biographical Memoirs XXII (4) (National Academy of Sciences). 
  2. ^ "Prof. Richtmyer, a Noted Physicist; Dean of the Cornell Graduate School and X-Ray Authority Dies at Age of 58; Won 1929 Levy Award; Developed Protective Screens, Perfected New Filtering Apparatus After 14 Years; Won the Levy Medal".  
  3. ^ a b "Death Strikes Two Suddenly". Cornell Alumni News. November 16, 1939. pp. 98–99. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  4. ^ F. K. Richtmyer. "Opportunities for Research". Journal of the Optical Society of America 1 (1): 1.  
  5. ^ Floyd Karker Richtmyer; Earle Hesse Kennard; John N. Cooper (1969). Introduction to modern physics (Fifth ed.). McGraw-Hill.  Also 1934, 1942, and 1955 editions with Kennard and T. Lauritsen.
  6. ^ "JOSA Articles Published by Early OSA Presidents". Journal of the Optic Society of America. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Floyd Karker Richtmyer". Franklin Laureate Database. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Awards".  

External links

  • Past Presidents of the Optical Society of America
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