Interview with David Griffiths, Professor Emeritus of Physics at Reed College. Griffiths discusses his current projects on Sidney Coleman’s lecture series and a completing a fifth edition of his textbook on electrodynamics. He surveys the current interplay between experiment in theory in today’s world of particle physics, and he reflects on his career rooted in small teaching colleges, as opposed to pursuing an alternate path at large research universities. Griffiths recounts his childhood in Berkeley and then in Madison in support of his father’s academic career, and he describes finishing out high school in Vermont before attending Harvard. He laments the poor physics education Harvard offered when he was an undergraduate, and he explains his decision to remain at Harvard for graduate school, where Sidney Coleman and Carl Bender advised his thesis work on massless field theory. Griffiths discusses his postdoctoral appoints at the University of Utah and then the University of Massachusetts, and he explains how the November revolution at SLAC resonated with him. After brief teaching appointments at Mount Holyoke and Trinity Colleges, Griffiths explains his decision to join the faculty at Reed and how he learned to strike the right balance between teaching and research. He describes the origins and his motivations in writing textbooks for physics students and how he has integrated pedagogy into his mentorship of students. Griffiths discusses the influence of Kuhn in his more recent survey of physics in the twentieth century, and at the end of the interview, he explains why including students in his own research is both personally and academically meaningful.
Youth and family life in Turkish Armenia prior to turn of century; time at Yale Sheffield Scientific School and early research interests; World War I work for U.S. Signal Corp; teaching experience and associates at Sheffield School; his book on mechanics; experience at Cavendish Laboratory, 1914; impressions of Joseph J. Thomson, reaction to Niels Bohr's atomic theory. Trinity College in Hartford, state of physics department; his preoccupation with wartime plight of Armenians. Comments on philosophy of science, reaction at Yale University to the theory of relativity, hazards of x-rays, concepts of centrifugal force, indeterminacy and complementarity. Also prominently mentioned is Leigh Page.