Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Lindsay, Robert Bruce

R(obert) Bruce Lindsay (1900-1985), professor of physics, was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on January 1, 1900. He graduated from Brown in 1920, receiving both a bachelor of arts and a master of science degree that year. He was a graduate student and instructor in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the next two years. In the 1922-23 academic year he studied, as a Fellow of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, at the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen under Niels Bohr (who won the Nobel prize that year) and H. A. Kramer. Kramer asked Lindsay and his wife to translate his book with H. Holst, Bohrs Atomteori, Almenfatteligt Fremstillet, into English. According to Lindsay, Mrs. Lindsay (Rachel T. Easterbrooks ’20) did much of the translation and he helped with the technical aspects. Their translation was published by Gyldendal in 1923 with the title, The Atom and the Bohr Theory of its Structure, and was published in the United States by Knopf in 1924. The Lindsays used the approximately $125 they had received for the translation in traveling around Europe in the summer of 1923. On his return, Lindsay completed his dissertation on the atomic models of the alkali metals, which he had begun in Copenhagen, and received his Ph.D. from M.I.T. in 1924. He went to Yale as instructor in physics in 1923 and was promoted to assistant professor in 1927. He came back to Brown in 1930 as associate professor of theoretical physics. He was named Hazard Professor of Physics in 1936 and chairman of the Physics Department in 1934, a post which he held until he became dean of the Graduate School in 1954. He taught one of the first University Courses on “The Role of Science in Civilization” and another course on “Energy and Man.” He published a number of textbooks, among them, Acoustics – A Text on Theory and Applications with G. W. Stewart in 1934, Physical Mechanics in 1933, Foundations of Physics with Henry Margenau in 1936, Concepts and Methods of Theoretical Physics in 1951 (with a Japanese translation published in 1957). He also published The Nature of Physics in 1968, Lord Rayleigh, The Man and His Work in 1970, and Julius Robert Mayer, Prophet of Energy in 1973. He retired as dean of the Graduate School in 1966 and from teaching in 1970. He died on March 2, 1985 in Newport, Rhode Island.