Norman Stevens was born in 1920, and had a wonderful career as an applied physicist. In this book I (Janet, his younger daughter) have collected a few memories of his career as we experienced it from stories we heard at home. Our family always loved and admired him and his accomplishments, and loved hearing the stories. Being a modest man, he wasn’t boastful, but it was inevitable that we should experience some of the joy he felt in exploration.
Merriam Webster “helpfully” defines a physicist as “a scientist who studies or is a specialist in physics.” Slightly more helpful is their definition of physics as “a science that deals with matter and energy and their interactions.” To me, a physicist is someone who studies and wants to understand the physical world: why planets orbit around the sun; what is matter and what holds matter together; what is light; and why do things act the way they do. Also, to me an applied physicist is someone who uses this knowledge, combined with curiosity and logical methods, to address specific problems such as how to develop a better detector or light source. Dad defined “a physicist as I practiced it was an engineer who understood the underlying theory and who also knew how to write.”* When I went to college, Dad told me that part of the purpose of college is to find a career that you love so much that you would do it for free … but they’ll pay you anyway.