Elisha Huggins

Elisha Huggins - Obituary

Elisha (Lish) Huggins passed away on June 18 at the age of 85. Huggins was an undergraduate at MIT and received his Ph.D. degree at Caltech under Richard Feynman in 1962.

In his thesis, he investigated the quantum interaction of gravity with electrons. As he described later: in an attempt to find an intuitive flat space explanation of the 43 seconds of arc per century perihelion advance of Mercury's orbit he, instead, discovered eight new energy tensors that could be used in Einstein’s general relativity equations. The scalar field term, which now plays a major role in conformally invariant field theories, was named the "Huggins term" by Murray Gell-Mann.

Huggins taught at a Dartmouth College from 1962 to 2001 and was an early pioneer in the use of computers as physics instructional tools. He has authored a number of physics introductory textbooks including Physics 2000 which introduces special relativity in the first week of the course, allowing for greater inclusion of modern physics than is normally the case. Professor Huggins developed an award winning software program for "MacScope" which allows a computer to be used as a powerful storage oscilloscope.

The Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to AAPT was awarded to honor Professor Huggins in 2015 in recognition of exceptional contribution to the association.  Among the non-physics awards he was proud of:  an Inspirational Trophy for MIT crew, and, after years of ski lessons—an expert skier classification!