Robert B. Leighton (physicist)

Robert B. Leighton (September 10, 1919–March 9, 1997) was an American physicist who spent his professional career at the California Institute of Technology. His bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees were all from Caltech; he joined the faculty in 1949. His "Principles of Modern Physics" 1959 was a standard textbook. After Richard Feynman's Lectures in Physics course, in the early-1960s, Leighton spent over two years reworking the tape-recorded text into publishable form: "The Feynman Lectures on Physics", which were published in 1964 and 1966, and which have enjoyed perennial success ever since.

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and team leader for the Mars probes Mariner 4, Mariner 6 and Mariner 7 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Leighton retired from teaching in 1990. During his career, he produced telescopes that covered the micrometre to millimetre wave spectrum, and discovered the five-minute oscillations in the local surface velocities of the Sun, which was the first finding in the field of solar seismology. His telescopes populate observatories at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, Mount Wilson, and the Owens Valley in California.

Leighton won the James Craig Watson Medal in 1988.

One of his sons, Ralph Leighton, also collaborated with Feynman on several books.

The New York Times published Leighton's obituary on 14 March 1997, five days after his death.

External links

* [http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/biomems/rleighton.html A biographical memoir by Jesse L. Greenstein, which describes the greater part of Leighton's scientific achievements.]


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