In Memoriam: Roy J. Glauber

    Date Posted: 
    Friday, January 4, 2019

    Roy J. Glauber, OSC Adjunct Professor and Nobel Laureate, passed away at the age of 93. Glauber was an Adjunct Professor of optical sciences at the University of Arizona and the Mallinckrodt Professor of physics at Harvard. During his education, Glauber studied under and worked with scientists including Robert Oppenheimer, Julian Schwinger, Wolfgang Pauli, and Richard Feynman. He worked on the Manhattan Project (at only 18 years of age!) and studied neutron diffusion, witnessing the first detonation of a nuclear weapon at the Trinity Site in New Mexico. Glauber completed his undergraduate degree in physics at Harvard before doing a Ph.D. on quantum field theory, also at Harvard. His research continued at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, NJ and California Institute of Technology, then he returned to Harvard in 1952.

    Jim Wyant and Roy J. Glauber (right)In 2005 Glauber was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in physics “for his contribution to the quantum theory of optical coherence.” The remainder of the prize was awarded to John Hall and Theodor Hänsch.  According to OSA, “Glauber’s prize winning work centered on his development of a theory that advanced the understanding of light by describing the behavior of light particles, known as light quanta or photons.” Glauber is also recognized for contributing to the invention of quantum computers. "Roy's work was remarkable in illustrating how to connect the fundamental quantum properties of light with conventional features of electromagnetic waves that we use in everyday engineering and science," said Tom Koch, dean of the College of Optical Sciences.

    At the University of Arizona, College of Optical Sciences Glauber was a much loved and appreciated contributor to activities and research. He regularly gave lectures at the College of Optical Sciences and jointly organized the ITAMP/B2 Institute Winter Graduate School. In 2006 Glauber was presented with an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Arizona, recommended by the College of Optical Sciences. According to UANews at the time of this honor, “Glauber is known as a giant of theoretical physics, where he has made trailblazing contributions to fields ranging from quantum optics to nuclear and particle theory.” Pierre Meystre, Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Physics and Optical Sciences and past head of the Physics Department at the University of Arizona, said of Glauber, “the real bottom line is that Roy has had such a profound influence on optics—he is called the Father of Quantum Optics for a reason—that all the quantum optics and quantum information crowd at optical sciences has been extraordinarily profoundly influenced by his work.”

    Glauber will be sorely missed, but his contributions and humor will continue to be remembered fondly at OSC.

    Caption: Jim Wyant, founding Dean of the College of Optical Sciences, poses with Roy J. Glauber during the honorary degree reception where he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Arizona.