Glen Erickson

22_erickson.jpegIn Memoriam: Glen Erickson

Professor Emeritus Glen Erickson passed away on December 19, 2021. 

Glen's Research Interests

Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) calculations were of continuing interest to Professor Erickson. Comparisons with experiment became less a test of QED theory than an indirect measurement of something else. For example, Lamb shift measurements may be considered as determining electromagnetic sizes of nuclei, and in fact provided better rms radii than direct measurements. The role of QED as a base for testing other, less-well-established, theories requires that its calculational precision be continually extended and compared with increasingly accurate measurements. QED predictions continue to match observations through-out a very wide range of orders of magnitude.

His most recent work was on the two-body ("recoil") aspects of the Lamb shift, and took two separate forms. One was a rather non-standard approach to the relativistic two-body problem, which had small but non-zero chance of success. The other was collaborative work with Michael Doncheski and Howard Grotch (Pennsylvania State University), continuing the approach Grotch and Yennie pioneered decades ago. The relativistic two-body problem (Bethe-Salpeter equation) is decidedly non-trivial, as it does not reduce to a simple equivalent one-body problem in center-of-mass coordinates.

Career History

  • Ph.D. - University of Minnesota, 1960


The following is a 1997 Video Interview of Professor Erickson, interviewed by Professor Tom Cahill:

Tributes and Personal Stories

Ling-Lie Chau and Glen

From Profesor Emeritus Ling-Lie Chau:

I will miss Glen's warm friendship—his cheerfulness was contagious.

Jack Gunion and Glen

From Professor Emeritus Jack Gunion:

Glen was a wonderful person. He was very generous and warm. He played an important role in my hiring and helped me a lot in my early days at Davis. He will be missed.

Daniel Cox and Glen

From Professor Daniel Cox:

[Glen] was a warm presence in the department.

Daniel Ferenc and Glen

From Professor Daniel Ferenc:

It was my great privilege to have Glen as my next door neighbor on the 5th floor for probably a decade. Always ready to open his heart about some injustice happening in the World, or locally (e.g. the peppergate), and get engaged as others have reported. He helped me set up and run the astro component of the modern physics lab, and when I asked whether he would like to read the corresponding projects, he ironically said (after a characteristic, long 'thinking pause') - "absolutely not, I am fully retired now." I have been missing his gentle, warm, righteous presence ever since his office (which he shared with Reid, Jungerman and McColm) was repurposed.

Pat Boeshaar and Glen

From Senior Lecturer SOE Emerita Pat Boeshaar:

Glen will be sorely missed as he was responsible for the Astro labs and Hutch telescope for many years prior to our arrival in 2004. Glen continued to produce the Astro lab book in "Physics L" format until 2004, then was extremely helpful in our conversion to a more transparent WORD format ...and the disposition of the old Newtonian reflectors after Chris purchased the new Meade Ritchey-Cretians. He also gave me valuable insight into how to hire a Head RoofHelper, how the RoofHelpers interacted with students and offered advice when personnel problems arose.

Glen was a wonderful source of information on the history of the Hutch Observatory from the time that the Physics Dept. was located in Hutchinson back in the 1960's, providing records of how Hutch was utilized for open house observations and student projects. He continued to

drop by my office in the following years to discuss the progress at the observatory as we renovated, replacing the old 12-inch Newtonian.

Glen's research area may have been in physics but his real love and avocation was astronomy, in which he continued involvement well after retirement.

Ching-Yao Fong and Glen

From Professor Emeritus Ching-Yao Fong:

Glen was a gentle, honest and kind person, He was dedicated to teaching. Besides Astronomy, Glen taught, in particular Phys. 104 for many years. He provided a solid background for students to take Phys. 115. He also contributed to the Course Committee of the College. One of his kindness was to have several adopted children. I have been lucky to know him and miss a friend with a gentle character and high principle of honesty now

Chris Fassnacht and Glen

From Professor Chris Fassnact:

When Lori and I arrived in 2002, Glen had been running the astronomy labs (then part of our AST 10 and AST 2 courses) for many years. The bulk of the real work in running the labs is done by undergraduate "roof helpers". They absolutely loved Glen, or "Dr E" as they called him. Glen was a great help to us as we took over the astronomy labs, before then handing them off to Pat [Boeshaar] who has run them for many years. Glen's interest in astronomy continued, and he often came to our cosmology group seminars. He will definitely be missed.

Shirley Chiang and Glen

From Professor Shirley Chiang:

I am also sorry to hear about Glen's passing. Glen, Tom Cahill, and Rod Reid all retired just as I arrived at Davis in 1994. Glen stayed involved with the department for many years after his retirement, and he was also a cheerful person when I would meet him in the hallways. I also remember him having some involvement with telescopes despite being a theorist.

Barry Klein and Glen

From Professor Emeritus Barry Klein:

Glen was a fine person who made many contributions to our department and to the Davis community. His generation of department members formed the groundwork of our department and are remembered with affection and respect. He will be missed.