Michael Riordan

Riordan headshot
Michael Riordan, a physicist and historian of physics and technology, earned his PhD in physics in 1973 from MIT, where he worked as a graduate student and postdoctoral researcher on the team credited with the discovery of quarks. He pursued research in experimental high-energy physics at the University of Rochester and at SLAC in the 1980s, before taking up the history of physics and technology during the 1990s. He taught this history as Adjunct Professor of Physics at University of California-Santa Cruz and Lecturer in the Department of History at Stanford University.

Riordan’s books include
The Hunting of the Quark, for which he won the 1988 Science Communication Award of the American Institute of Physics (AIP); with Lillian Hoddeson, Crystal Fire: The Birth of the Information Age, a definitive history of the invention of the transistor which won the inaugural Sally Hacker Prize of the Society for the History of Technology in 1999; with Bruce Anderson, The Solar Home Book: Heating, Cooling and Designing with the Sun; and with David N. Schramm, The Shadows of Creation: Dark Matter and the Structure of the Universe. Riordan was also an editor of The Rise of the Standard Model: Particle Physics in the 1960s and 1970s.

His articles, essays and reviews have appeared in the
New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union, Newark Star-Ledger, Seattle Times, American Scientist, Harvard Business Review, New Scientist, Physics Today, Physics World, Science, Scientific American, and Technology Review.

A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Riordan served on its governing council and as the Chair of its Forum on the History of Physics. He led a group of scholars who wrote
Tunnel Visions: The Rise and Fall of the Superconducting Super Collider. In connection with research for this book, he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1999. In recognition of his achievements in communicating modern physics and its relationship to the wider culture, Riordan received the Andrew W. Gemant Award in 2002 from AIP.

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