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Emeriti News - Professor Ron Winters

Much of my research was done at the Oak Ridge National laboratory (ORNL) using a very fine electron accelerator, the Oak Ridge Electron Accelerator (ORELA).

By 1990 the funding for ORELA was shrinking and maintaining the machine becoming more difficult. Moreover a number of my colleagues in neutron related astrophysics were retiring or being forced into other research. I was involved in a series of measurements designed to help both with testing the quantitative aspects of stellar nucleosynthesis and provide an Optical Model of neutron-nuclei interactions at stellar temperatures. The work was not going well because I could make only limited progress during the academic terms. A certain sense of urgency took root in my psyche. I retired from Denison in 1999. For the next four or five years my remaining colleagues and I made three additional measurements, finished analyses of data obtained earlier in the decade, and watched as ORELA was inexorable shut down. By 2005 it was clear that I had accomplished all in astrophysics that I was able to do. I retired from research and started a different life.

In 2001, my wife Pat and I purchased an old (1905) house in Granville and we began restoring it. My father was a carpenter and I had worked with him building houses from age 15 until I finished college. That experience paid dividends. Unlike Pat, I can’t distinguish between two shades of rose in wallpaper, but I can distinguish between load bearing and non-load bearing walls. Pat and I have had a great time forming a vision for the house and trying to make the vision real. We finished the last of the restoration/remodeling project just this past July when a local carpenter finished recreating a butler’s pantry and china cabinet between our kitchen and dining room. The reality is not too different from our early vision for a 1925 look.

In addition to and while we were doing the remodeling, Pat and I both began to play golf, a game I fell in love with as a caddie during my high school days. I now play three to four days a week. Even though during my years at Denison (1966-1999) I played at most 2 rounds a year (with the former physics Chair Sam Wheeler and Dr. Lisska of the Philosophy Department), I had visions of becoming a single digit handicap player. That has not happened! The game is wonderfully difficult and being outside for hours day after day during the Spring, Sum- mer, and Fall gives great pleasure, regardless of my score or the number of quarters I lose in our skins games.

As members of our Church’s History and Records Committee, Pat and I are developing a database of deceased members for our Church. This has forced me to learn more than I am willing to admit I know about the Microsoft database manager ACCESS. But we have developed a deeper appreciation of the folks who, over the past 200 years or so, have made the Granville Centenary United Methodist Church able to so faithfully and well continue to serve our community.

Of course, our son Eric and his family live here and we do attend the High School football games to watch our Granddaughter Vanessa in the Marching Band’s Flag Corp. Parallel with that we attend two or three soccer games a week to watch our Grandson Ross play. In the summer, soccer is replaced by Little League baseball and by the kids’ activities at the local YMCA. The past two fall seasons, I have helped with my Grandson’s chess club and watched as he and the other nine and ten year old boys become rather good players. Our daughter Sonja’s oldest child Emma is a sophomore at Denison and drops in on us fairly often. Seeing Denison through her eyes has served to make me even prouder of this Fair College on the Hill.

A few years ago after reading Brian Green’s book about String Theory, the early work of Theodor Kaluza, a Prus- sian mathematician, has captured my fancy. Kaluza learned of Einstein’s work on The General Theory of gravity and showed in a paper in 1921 that by extending the spatial dimensions to four, he could obtain Maxwell’s equa- tions describing Electricity and Magnetism from Einstein’s relationship between the curvature of space and ener- gy density. Recreating that work has required a bit of brushing up on group theory and other mathematical eso- tery. Great fun!

I do enjoy retirement and the opportunities to do and to think. I am most grateful to Denison for a very rich and productive professional life and an equally satisfying retirement!

Posted Date: 
Monday, April 28, 2014