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Dr Nigel D Haig,
Consulting Scientist

    Re: Dick's 80th birthday
    Mon, 3 Feb 2003 13:34:14 -0000
    "Dr N D Haig"

Dear ,

I was so pleased to hear about Dick; he never seemed to be much older than the students, so it came as rather a surprise to realise that he is getting on a bit!!

I hope he won't mind me saying so, but it was his great gift of thinking logically and with clarity about "ordinary Physics", the tuning fork, for example, that drew my admiration more than his remarkable facility with the theory of quantum mechanics. Perhaps it was because I am a very simple-minded chap, and classical physics appeals to me more immediately than the abstractions of quantum theory, many of which seem nowadays to be in turmoil, after so much excitement in Astrophysics, Gravitation, and Quantum Optics.

Dick's approach to physical problems impressed me enormously, and has helped me by teaching me to challenge the apparently obvious, and showing that things may not be quite so obvious after all. It is the way of thinking, rather than the straightforward data manipulation, that I found so useful in my later research.

I greatly enjoyed my time at Drummond Street, and this was due in no small measure to Dick's enthusiasm and helpfulness. After Edinburgh, my own career seemed to charge off in all sorts of directions (sometimes completely orthogonal!), solving all sorts of optical, physical and engineering problems in some fascinating areas of defence work, yet hardly touching upon the subject of my research at Edinburgh. Until, that is, my very last 3 years with MoD (I retired in 1998), when I suddenly realised that I could solve a hitherto insoluble problem by using some of the theory behind the old Hanbury-Brown and Twiss work, that Dick had described to me, so many years before.

Unfortunately, I can't say what the work is, but it meant that I had to dig out my old research notes from the mid-1960's, most of which were influenced directly by Dick. By linking our old Edinburgh work with another radical idea that I had, we were indeed able to solve the problem, and it is still proceeding apace without me! So, he has reached down across more than 3 decades, to influence not only other people's research, but also the defence of the realm!

Please give my best wishes to Dick on his 80th, and kind regards to Winifred and yourself,


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