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Alumni

Athanasois “Tom” Patitsas (MS, Physics, 1961; BS, E.E., 1958)

                                                       

Many years have passed since I found myself in a large first year
classroom in Tate Lab of Physics in September of 1954.

My command of the English language was minimal. I had to work in the kitchen of one of the fraternities. The boys there had a terrible time trying to pronounce my name, so when I decided to adopt the name, Tom, they all jumped with joy and relief. After a couple of lectures, I approached Dr. George Freier, the lecturer, and I said that I have a problem, since my English was not adequate to follow his presentation. He smiled and said, “That is a problem alright. You come and see me whenever possible.” During the seven years that followed, Dr. Freier was my mentor and advisor. I appreciated his perseverance and intellectual honesty in his effort to understand some of the physical phenomena around us, such as the electric field on the surface of the earth. During the 1970s, while teaching physics at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, CA, I did computations on the scattering of the sun’s rays by water droplets, in connection with the phenomenon of the rainbow. Since 1990, and especially after my retirement in 1996, I have been involved with the understanding of the phenomena of the singing sands and booming sand dunes. In the former case, a pleasant sound is emitted, with frequency of about 600 Hz, when certain beach sands are stepped on or impacted by a rod. In the latter case, a droning sound is emitted, with frequency of about 100 Hz, when sand masses avalanche down the slope of a sand mountain. The results of this study are summarized in a manuscript recently completed that will be published soon in, Scientific Journals International. It can be accessed through Google by the title,
“Singing sands, musical grains and booming sand dunes” http://www.
scientifi cjournals.org/journals2008/articles/1404.pdf. Last June, I had the opportunity to meet my son, Steve at Quebec City during the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Physicists. Steve is a professor of Physics at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.