03 Dick on his 80th birthday 03
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  Tributes to Dick Sillitto on his 80th Birthday,
  from forty-two physicists

Links 5  : from Alastair Rae

The Burn: in colour!

croquet lesson

map of The Burn

Heartiest congratulations, Dick, on your 80th birthday!

Later this year it will be exactly 50 years since I attended your lecture course on, I think it was called, Experimental Methods as part of the third year B.Sc. Hons. Physics course. Then, as ever, your style left a deep impression - impeccable preparation and presentation, intellectually rigorous but not over the heads of us students and often with those little revelations like a window being opened for us, letting a bright light shine through. For example, it may seem rather a mundane matter in the great scheme of things but I still remember you explaining to us how (and how not!) to find the mean spacing of a set of equally spaced interference fringes. I remember too on a later occasion a conversation we had about photons, well not so much a conversation - the flow of knowledge was unidirectional from you to me, and that stands out for me as the first time that I began to have some understanding of what quantum physics was really about, and your book on the subject, written in your own original style, took me further along that road.

I remember, too, what an inspiring demonstrator you were in the Final Year lab. You gave me a project that I could get my teeth into - the ghosts of the departmental Rowland grating if I remember rightly. It was yourself and the late George Evans who showed me the beauty of optics.

One other thing came back to me as I thought about those times. In 1953 you, with a few others, took the class to a "reading party" at The Burn. I don't remember much about the physics we discussed, if any, but I do remember you teaching at least some of us how to play croquet.

David Dryburgh, Dick Sillitto, Margaret Crump             Ian Cameron, Dick Sillitto

I still have a couple of photos of you on the croquet lawn. One shows you with David Dryburgh (MP4) and Margaret Crump (P4). I vaguely recall that the chap with you in the other one was your research student at the time and the name Cameron seems to ring a bell, but I can't remember his first name. To quote the late P.J.Kennedy, "those of us who are old enough to remember have forgotten"!      

I don't remember us climbing Mount Keen though - perhaps transport was an insuperable problem then.

There is much else but I think I have said enough to illustrate my debt to you both as a teacher and as an example. Jean and I greatly appreciate your friendship and send our very best wishes for many more years of peaceful retirement.

Yours, Alastair.

The last time we saw Alastair was at the gathering in the Physics Department to celebrate the retirement of David Vass, Norman Fancey and Francis Barnes, all of whom had been undergraduates there. A highly entertaining event it was, the end of an era, as you can read on the University's ebulletin.

This photo of us with Alastair was taken by Isobel Vass in the departmental coffee room, 3rd December, 2004
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