Passing of Dr. Thomas Phipps
A Genuine Renaissance Man
I first contacted Dr. Phipps in 2008 after reading a paper written in 1927 by his father, Dr. Thomas E. Phipps Sr., which measured properties of hydrogen using then-new atomic techniques. I was delighted to learn that Dr. Phipps Jr. was indeed the son of the same, that he had earned a PhD in physics from Harvard, that he had worked closely with Nobel Laureate Norman Ramsey, that his career connected him with several other amazing physicists, that his early retirement conducted experiments with his father aimed at reinterpreting conventional thinking in modern physics, and that he was among the most prolific writers and critics in the dissident universe. Wow! Though I realize the NPA’s Sagnac Award has impacted little, I will always keep a place in my heart for Dr. Phipps and the other 2010 recipients, whose contributions, in my opinion, compare favorably with the physics Nobel Laureates of the same year. Like Avogadro, Phipps’ interpretations of relativity will, I believe, ultimately prove correct.
Though he did not live to see all of his experiments conducted, he most certainly did propose specific tests that determine measurable second-order differences between conventional thinking about light, and his own neo-Hertzian relativity. But beyond thoughts of his own, Phipps was amazingly well-read, critiquing hundreds of books and papers of other dissident authors. This contribution alone merits him the title, renaissance man. I feel sorry for his online detractors, who never bothered to read his material, since Phipps’s credentials were so unimpeachable, his prose so lucid and delightful, his facts so clearly presented, and claims so understated. I consider it a great honor to have known him, and exchanged ideas with him.
He was a great man of science in the tradition of Newton, Maxwell, and well, Sagnac.