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William V. Houston

William V. Houston
Born (1900-01-19)January 19, 1900
Mount Gilead, Ohio, U.S.
Died

August 22, 1968(1968-08-22) (aged 68#REDIRECT

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Nationality American
Fields Physics
Alma mater Ohio State University
Notable awards Rice University Medal of Honor - 1962

William Vermillion Houston (January 19, 1900 – August 22, 1968) was an American physicist who made contributions to spectroscopy, quantum mechanics, and solid-state physics as well as being a teacher and administrator. He became the second president of Rice University in 1946.

His family name is pronounced HOW-stun, in contrast to the pronunciation of the city of Houston in which he lived for much of his career.

Contents

  • Education 1
  • Career 2
  • Books 3
  • Professional Organizations 4
  • Honors 5
  • Selected publications 6
  • References 7
  • Notes 8
  • External links 9

Education

Houston began his college education in 1916 at Ohio State University (OSU) where he earned his baccalaureate degree in physics. He served in the military during 1918 and 1919. After teaching physics at the University of Dubuque for one year, he entered graduate studies at the University of Chicago and studied under Albert A. Michelson, who had won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1907, and Robert Millikan who would win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1923 for his measurement of the charge on the electron and for his work on the photoelectric effect. It was at this time that Houston began his experimental work on the fine structure of hydrogen. In 1922, he returned to Ohio State, where he was an instructor in physics and studied spectroscopy under A. D. Cole. Houston was granted his Ph.D. in 1925, after which he went to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) on a National Research Fellowship, largely because Millikan had left Chicago for Caltech in 1922. At Caltech Houston continued his work in spectroscopy and making improvements in Fabry–Pérot interferometry. At Caltech, he taught a spectroscopy course out of Atombau und Spektrallinien, which became the “bible”[1] of atomic theory for the new generation of physicists who developed atomic and quantum physics. In 1927 and 1928, Houston was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which he used to go to Germany to do postgraduate study with Arnold Sommerfeld at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich and Werner Heisenberg at the University of Leipzig. Also studying with Sommerfeld concurrently with Houston were Carl Eckart, Edwin C. Kemble, and Rudolf Peierls. At that time, the winter semester of 1927,[2] Sommerfeld, in his special lectures, treated the theory of electrons in metals for the first time. As a course of study, Sommerfeld suggested to Houston that he investigate the mean free path of electrons and its relationship to resistance in metals as a function of temperature. Sommerfeld showed Houston the proof of a paper soon be published on the subject of Fermi statistics applied to phenomena in metals. Houston’s work on the subject was published in a paper coauthored with Sommerfeld and Eckart.[3] After spending the winter semester of 1927 with Sommerfeld, Houston went to spend the spring semester of 1928 with Heisenberg in Leipzig. There, he studied the spin-orbit interaction in two-electron spectra. Houston was able to show the transition from Russell-Saunders coupling to jj-coupling in two-electron systems and its influence on the Zeeman effect. It was at this time that Houston formed a professional and personal friendship with Felix Bloch, who did pioneering work on the motion of electrons in periodic structures.[4][5][6][7]

Career

After his study and research in Germany, Houston returned to Caltech and served as an assistant professor (1927–1929), associate professor (1929–1931), and professor (1931–1946).[5] He again took up his experimental work on spectroscopy and the theory of electrons in atoms and solids. His work on the Zeeman effect resulted in a correction to the accepted value of the e/m ratio, as well as stimulating R. T. Birge and J. W. M. Dumond to work up a consistent set of precise atomic constants. In solid-state physics he studied the surface photoelectric effect and made the first suggestion and analysis of the use of soft x-rays to investigate the energy bands of solids. At Caltech, and later at Rice University, he taught a course on mathematical physics, for which he wrote a textbook.[4]

During World War II, through the influence of Dr. Frank B. Jewett of the National Academy of Sciences, Houston became involved in undersea warfare research and development, for which he also had supervisory responsibility at installations at Harvard University, San Diego, and Key West.[4]

In 1946, Houston became the second president of Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he served as president and professor until 1961. He resigned as president after a serious illness in 1961, but continued his teaching responsibilities. As president, Houston brought many advancements to the university, including enlargement of the graduate school, a five-year engineering program, lowering of the student-teacher ratio to 10:1, and fostering a closer relationship between the students and faculty.[4]

In 1953, Houston wrote a review of Sommerfeld’s first volume of the six-volume Lectures on Theoretical Physics, based on Sommerfeld’s six-semester course on theoretical physics.[8]

Houston was productive until the day he died in Edinburgh, Scotland on August 22, 1968. He was survived by his wife, Mildred née White, whom he married in 1924.[4]

Books

  • William V. Houston Principles of Mathematical Physics (McGraw-Hill, 1934 and 1948)
  • William V. Houston Principles of Quantum Mechanics (McGraw-Hill, 1951)
  • William V. Houston Principles of Quantum Mechanics, Non-relativistic Wave Mechanics with Illustrative Applications (Dover, 1959)

Professional Organizations

Honors

  • Navy Medal of Merit presented by the Secretary of the Navy for services during World War II
  • 1962 – Rice University Medal of Honor

Selected publications

  • A. Sommerfeld, W. V. Houston, and C. Eckart, Zeits. f. Physik 47, 1 (1928)
  • W. V. Houston, "The Physical Content of Quantum Mechanics," 5 (2), 49-55 (1937). Paper cited in Robert H. Romer "Editorial: Memorable papers from the American Journal of Physics, 1933-1990", "Am. J. Phys." 59 (3), 201-207, March 1991

References

Notes


-- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p
  1. ^ Kragh, 2002, p. 155.
  2. ^ Houston – May 1927 – Sommerfeld Project
  3. ^ A. Sommerfeld, W. V. Houston, and C. Eckart, Zeits. f. Physik 47, 1 (1928)
  4. ^ a b c d e Houston Biography – The National Academies Press
  5. ^ a b Author Catalog: Houston – American Philosophical Society
  6. ^ Sommerfeld Biography – American Philosophical Society
  7. ^ Arnold Sommerfeld Some Reminiscences of My Teaching Career, American Journal of Physics 17 (5) 315-316 (1949)
  8. ^ Arnold Sommerfeld, Author and W. V. Houston, Reviewer Mechanics, Lectures on Theoretical Physics, American Journal of Physics Volume 21, Issue 5, p. 399 (1953)

External links

  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir
Academic offices
Preceded by
Edgar Odell Lovett
President of Rice University
1946–1961
Succeeded by
Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer
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