Elisha Rhodes Huggins (PhD Caltech ‘62)
Alumnus Elisha (Lish) Huggins passed away on June 18 at the age of 85. Huggins was an undergraduate at MIT and received his Ph.D. degree at Caltech under Richard Feynman in 1962.In his thesis, he investigated the quantum interaction of gravity with electrons. As he described later: in an attempt to find an intuitive flat space explanation of the 43 second of arc per century rotation ofMercury’s orbit he instead discovered eight new energy tensors that could be used in Einstein’s general relativity equations. The scalar field term, which now plays a major role in conformally invariant field theories, was named the “Huggins term” by Murray Gell-Mann.Huggins taught at Dartmouth College from 1962 to 2001 and was an early pioneer in the use of computers as physics instructional tools. He authored a number of physics introductory textbooks including Physics 2000 which introduces special relativity in the first week of the course, allowing for greater inclusion of modern physics than is normally the case. Professor Huggins also developed an award winning application “MacScope” which allows a computer to be used as a powerful storage oscilloscope. In 2015, Professor Huggins received the Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to American Association of Physics Teachers in recognition of exceptional contribution.In addition to a life-long passion for physics, Huggins owned and restored a wooden sloop “Tundra”(circa 1888). He spent his free time sailing along the northeast coast with his wife Anne, and their children Cleo and Robert. Among the non-physics awards, he took pride in an Inspirational Trophy forMIT crew, and, after years of ski lessons – an expert skier classification!