ROBERT HENRY DICKE

May 6, 1916–March 4, 1997

BY W. HAPPER, P. J. E. PEEBLES, AND D. T. WILKINSON

BOB DICKE CONTRIBUTED to advances in radar, atomic physics, quantum optics, gravity physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. The unifying theme was his application of powerful and scrupulously controlled experimental methods to issues that really matter. Though Bob sometimes had to hide his amusement at theorists he found poorly grounded in phenomenology, he did not hesitate to speculate where the experimental ground is thin; the condition was that there had to be the possibility of a measurement that could teach us something new. He wrote:

I have long believed that an experimentalist should not be unduly inhibited by theoretical untidiness. If he insists on having every last theoretical T crossed before he starts his research the chances are that he will never do a significant experiment. And the more significant and fundamental the experiment the more theoretical uncertainty may be tolerated. By contrast, the more important and difficult the experiment the more that experimental care is warranted. There is no point in attempting a half-hearted experiment with an inadequate apparatus.1

Bob held some 50 patents, from clothes dryers to lasers. He recognized that two mirrors make a more effective laser than the traditional closed cavity of microwave technology. In the company Princeton Applied Research he and his students packaged his advances in phase-sensitive detection



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