H. Richard Crane
1907 – 2007
Emeritus Professor H. Richard Crane, one of the most distinguished experimental physicists of the twentieth century, died April 19, 2007. His early work on nuclear physics and the physics of accelerators culminated in the invention of the Race Track Synchrotron, a design emulated by almost every particle accelerator since 1950. Professor Crane’s pioneering measurements on the gyro-magnetic ratio of the free electron are a cornerstone of quantum electrodynamics, and his analyses of helical structures in molecules continue to be significant in genetic research.
Born November 4, 1907 in Turlock, California to Horace Stephen and Mary Alice Roselle Crane, Professor Crane received his B.S., and his Ph.D., Cum Laude (1934), from the California Institute of Technology. A member of the Department of Physics from 1934 until his retirement in 1978, he served as department chairman from 1964 - 1972.
During World War II, Professor Crane worked as Research Associate on radar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a physicist on the proximity fuse at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He served as the Director of the proximity fuse research at UM and as Director of the atomic research project for the Manhattan District. He consulted on the National Defense Research Commission and Office of Scientific Research and Development and served as President of the Midwestern Universities Research Association from 1957-1960, President of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1965, and played leading roles in the American Institute of Physics, serving on the Board of Governors from 1964 - 1971, and as Chairman from 1971 - 1975.
Professor Crane’s awards began in 1925 as a high school student, with his Prize for Excellence from the American Chemical Society; he then received the Naval Ordnance Development Award in 1945; Member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1966; the Distinguished Service Award from UM in 1957; the California Institute of Technology Distinguished Alumni Medal in 1967; the UM Henry Russell Lectureship in 1967; the American Association of Physics Teachers Citation for Distinguished Service in 1968; the Orsted Medal of 1976; and the National Medal of Science awarded by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
He was active in amateur radio from its earliest days, from about 1917 through and including the reception of weather transmissions from satellites, prior to the technology availability on television. As a columnist for “Physics Teacher,” Professor Crane wrote articles on how things work, which later became a best-selling book for the American Institute of Physics.
Since retiring from the Michigan faculty, Professor Crane continued to live in Ann Arbor, where he was a guiding spirit for the Hands-On Science Museum and for technical education at Washtenaw Community College. He resided most recently with his daughter Carol and her husband Fred Kitchens near Chelsea. Professor Crane was preceded in death by his wife, Florence Rohmer LeBaron and by his daughter, Janet. He is survived by his daughter Carol Kitchens (Fred), his son George Crane (Ann), and five grandchildren: Fred Kitchens, Anne Kitchens, Susan Kitchens Wolding (Dave), James Crane and Beth Crane-Tarcea (Glenn).
--Jens Zorn, Department of Physics