Michael Tinkham, Rumford Professor of Physics and Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics in the Physics Department and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Emeritus, who was internationally known for his contributions to condensed matter physics, in particular superconductivity, died in Portland, Oregon, on November 4, 2010, of complications following a stroke. He was 82 years old.Mike was an experimental physicist with a gift for theory and a nose for important challenging problems. After graduating from Ripon College in Wisconsin in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in physics, he proceeded to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in just three years. His thesis, “Theory of the Fine Structure of the Molecular Oxygen Ground State with an Experimental Study of its Microwave Paramagnetic Spectrum,” was published in 1955. He changed his interests from gaseous magnetic oxygen to the understanding of properties in solids with a classic study of magnetic properties of transition metal ions in a diamagnetic lattice as a postdoctoral fellow at the Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford University from 1954-1955. Mike then moved to the University of California in Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow in 1955, and joined the faculty there in 1957.At Berkeley Mike wrote his first book, Group Theory and Quantum Mechanics (1964). His research was predominantly in superconductivity and magnetism. This was an era when the understanding of superconductivity in metals was just emerging after many decades of study and lack of understanding. Together with Rolf Glover III, a fellow postdoc, he set up a laboratory and measured the absorption/transmission of far infrared light passing through thin superconducting films. The remarkable result was that more light passed through the films in the superconducting state than in the higher temperature normal metal phase. The far IR measurements as a function of frequency showed the existence of the superconducting energy gap. These observations preceded the just-developing Bardeen-Cooper-Schriefer (BCS) theory of superconductivity and were key evidence in support of the theory. His double-pronged research group in superconductivity and magnetism created an exciting environment, and Berkeley was an important stop for travelling scientists to visit Mike and his group and observe the latest findings. In 1974 Mike was awarded the Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society for outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions to condensed matter physics based upon that work.In 1966 Mike accepted an offer from the Physics Department at Harvard University, where he spent the rest of his career. Superconductivity continued as the main focus of his research. His deep understanding of superconductivity led him to write his second book, Introduction to Superconductivity (1975), which clearly elucidated the subtle mysteries of the subject and has become a classic in the field. In the early seventies, together with his postdocs and students, he made important advances in understanding the effect of thermal fluctuations on broadening the transition between superconducting and normal states. With his deep understanding of the subtle theoretical underpinnings of superconductivity, he led a research activity to study many properties of the superconducting state. With members of his group he applied those ideas to phase-slip centers, current flow across the superconductor-normal interface, and the subharmonic energy-gap structure in superconducting metallic weak links. Mike moved with the times. At Harvard he led in the development of the first central labs for producing materials on a nanoscopic level. He and his group studied submicron tunnel junctions capacitively coupled to minute islands, the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in arrays of Josephson junctions, and tiny metallic whiskers grown on carbon nanotubes.Until his retirement Mike maintained a large active research group. Graduate students were attracted to him for his ability to make complex ideas seem simple and to offer thesis problems on the leading edge of the field. He encouraged his students to explore new directions, giving them full freedom to follow their own ideas and develop as creative scientists. He hungered for data from his labs and had an uncanny talent for transforming scraps of experimental data into an ever-deeper understanding of superconductivity. Over 45 students received their Ph.D.s under Mike’s tutelage. His well-trained students and postdocs easily found positions at leading universities and research laboratories.Mike loved good food, good wine, and special desserts, sampling them all over the world. His students were devoted and had an annual “Tinkham Dinner” at the March meeting of the American Physical Society. Throughout most of his career he was quite formal and wore a coat and tie for most occasions, sometimes with a funny cap for the Boston weather. But this attire did not hinder his fun with his students. A special Science Center lecture to the interested public was advertised by a large colorful sign titled “Superconductivity” only to be doctored by his students on the night of the presentation to read “Sex and Superconductivity.” He once walked into his lab where some of his students were having lunch and was upset to find that none of the homemade electronics were labeled. He demanded that everything in the lab be labeled for the next generation. The next day he found all the equipment duly labeled and his students sitting with bowed heads. When they were asked to look up, Mike saw five foreheads labeled “Graduate Student.”Mike is survived by his wife, Mary Tinkham, his sons, Jeff and Chris, and two grandchildren, all now living in Portland, Oregon. His colleagues and students, deeply saddened by his passing, will always remember his warmth, friendliness, and enthusiasm, as well as the depth of understanding and insights he brought to physics.Respectfully submitted,Venkatesh NarayanamurtiRobert M. WesterveltIsaac F. Silvera, Chair
Photo courtesy of Kelly LampotangKelly Lampotang hacks — and she wants to see more women take a crack at it, too.Lampotang, a sophomore majoring in computer engineering and computer science, founded AthenaHacks after participating in hackathons her freshman year and realizing she was frequently the only female team member.“Every single time, I was always the only girl on my hackathon teams,” she said. “The friends that you would usually go to hackathons with were always guys. There aren’t many women in hackathons.”Less than 20 percent of hackathon attendees are women, according to Lady Problems Hakathon, an organization that examines issues regarding women in technology. A hackathon features developers of varying skill levels banding together to cultivate technology solutions to issues in everyday life.After attending an all-female hackathon in the Bay Area, Lampotang was inspired to host one for Southern California and expand the idea of an all-female hackathon to the region.“I expected it to be really great, but it was not as great as it could have been,” Lampotang said. “I wanted to make something for SoCal that was as great as a real hackathon, but also all females.” Fellow Viterbi undergraduates Catherine Chung, Ilona Bodnar, Sampurna Basu and Yingyu Sun joined Lampotang as the five co-founders of AthenaHacks. They then recruited 10 other women to help plan the event and work toward their mission of supporting and nurturing women in tech.Yingyu Sun, a sophomore majoring in computer science, is one of the five founding females of AthenaHacks. She also recognized the need for such an event to take place.“This is something that’s pretty rare,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of all-female hackathons in the country even.” In addition to hosting the hackathon, AthenaHacks will host a slew of skill-building, social and professional workshops for all who identify as female. According to Lampotang, the workshops range from introduction to programming to advanced skills and technical specialty workshops; however, they are normally for beginners.“These are usually geared towards people who haven’t been to a hackathon before,” Lampotang said. “Find something that you want to work on, gain some basic knowledge, then go in with your actual team and build something from what you learn.”Sun also said she wanted AthenaHacks to focus on beginner’s workshops. “Hackathons can be pretty scary to start, especially if it’s your first time,” she said. “What we really want AthenaHacks to be is a way for beginners to learn more about what they can do and have that support system there for them to do what they want to.” Corporations such as Facebook will send representatives and host a workshop. Others, like Zynga, will sponsor prizes. Marsela Sulku, a sophomore majoring in computer science, stated that the accessibility of companies surprised her. “It’s cool to know how connected we are,” she said. “It opened my eyes.” According to Lampotang, a diverse array of companies were willing to help. “A lot of companies are excited about the idea [of having] an all-female hackathon for the diversity aspects,” she said. “And I think that they recognize that there’s a huge imbalance right now in how many women currently attend hackathons.” Sulku and Sun both acknowledge that they have seen this imbalance recently. They were the only two girls in a group of six for a group project. “I think people use girls in tech almost as a token of diversity,” Sun said. “But I think there’s more to that than just having them be there. People need to realize that we’re not just there to make things diverse.” Sun credits faculty and staff from USC for helping bring the vision to life and rallying for their cause. “People are really responsive, and if they can’t do anything, they’ll forward us to someone else,” she said. “It’s nice to know that people out there care.” The hackathon will also be providing free feminine products and donating money to local women-centric charities in the hackathon’s winners’ names. “I think AthenaHacks provides an area where everyone’s on the same boat,” Sulku said. “It’s the first step to feeling more comfortable in this industry, which is important.” AthenaHacks will be held from April 8 to 9. In addition to undergraduate and graduate students, high school girls are also eligible to participate. “The whole goal is to get more women to go to [AthenaHacks],” Lampotang said. “Maybe they’ll see that it’s a good environment, be less intimidated by the whole thing and go to more hackathons.”
MORE: Four things we’ll miss if the NHL cancels the rest of the regular seasonLike all players, he’s itching to get back on the ice and complete the season, but he understands the priority of public safety.”Obviously, I would be glad to play again,” he said. “I hope people get healthy and everything comes back to normal.” “One day before leaving [Calgary], I had gotten a plasma injection into my elbow that had been bruised and I had some stretched tendons there,” he said. “I could not do anything for a week. … This week, I started to exercise a bit and recover. I am in quarantine, so it was a bit of a problem to get some workout equipment from the fitness center. My friend is going to lend me some stuff here in Jihlava [his hometown] so that I can start with some preparations. So far it has been only working out with my own body weight.”MORE: Flames among six NHL teams to implement staffing cutsRittich, who last played March 8 in a 5-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, returned home after the NHL put its season on hold because of the coronavirus March 12. He has had a solid season as the Flames’ No. 1 goalie, posting a 24-17-6 record, a 2.97 GAA and a .907 save percentage.He credits his teammates with helping him achieve success so far this year.”They wanted me to be in goal and believed in me,” he said. “That was probably the best thing for me during this season.”Rittich, now in his fourth NHL season, represented the Pacific Division at this year’s All-Star Game in St. Louis. “Obviously, that was a great experience for me and I had so much fun,” he said. “But this I consider being some kind of a reward for my performance, and here we get back to the guys wanting me to be there for them and believing in me, which helped me so much and in the end got me to be invited to the All-Star Game.”Despite Rittich’s good performances, the Flames have been frustratingly inconsistent. They’re in third place in the Pacific Division, just one point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks, although it looks increasingly unlikely the regular season will be completed. “This season has been kind of a roller coaster for us,” he said. “Not just for me, but for the entire team. There were so many things that happened. It was not as clicking on the ice like in the last season. We have had some issues that either were not so visible or they were hidden behind the fact that we scored a lot of goals.” Calgary Flames All-Star goalie David Rittich has been nursing an elbow injury since at least early March.Rittich made the revelation Friday in an interview with NHL.com, saying he underwent treatment for the injury before returning home to the Czech Republic.