By Jamie Reese
SC Staff Writer
Doctor Elwood has been teaching physics courses at East Stroudsburg University for thirteen years.
According to Ratemyprofessors.com, students at the university consider Dr. Elwood to be among the greatest teachers at ESU.
“He made the hardest class I’ve ever taken one of the best classes I’ve ever taken,” wrote an anonymous student. Students, though aware of the difficulty of the classes, praise Dr. Elwood for his work as a physics professor.
“Elwood is the man. He’s one of the intellectually brightest men you will ever meet,” wrote another reviewer. “The class is hard, but he’s an excellent teacher and offered all his time for help.”
Professor Elwood entered Cornell University as a biochemistry major. Over time, this progressed into chemistry and culminated to a degree in chemistry and a degree in physics.
“As an undergrad,” said Professor Elwood, “I couldn’t really decide between chemistry and physics, so I went both ways. In graduate school, you have to somewhat specialize, so that’s when I went full bore physics… As someone who went through many of the scientific fields, I found myself moving towards physics each time because physics lie underneath.”
He earned a degree in physics from California Tech.
“By the time I decided on my thesis, I settled on high energy theory… There were two components. One component was what you would call standard, high energy particle physics… In particular, there is a symmetry called CP symmetry. The P stands for parity, which is a symmetry operation that you can’t actually perform, but that you can imagine in which the universe is reflected through its origin; so left becomes right and right becomes left and that sort of thing.”
The general question ventured through this part of the thesis is whether or not we would notice such a change and whether there is actually a law distinguishing left from right.
“The C stands for Charge conjugation, which is similar, except that instead of reflecting things through the origin, you imagine changing every particle into its anti-particle…The question is this: If someone did that some night while you were asleep, and you woke up, could you tell?”
The thesis went on to venture other questions, such as whether a change in C and P at the same time would virtually cancel each other out.
On campus, Dr. Elwood has current projects in physics. One of them is “looking at the effects of external field on polymers, and seeing if it changes their fluid properties.”
“That’s a project in tandem with Doctor Shaffer in the chemistry department,” said Dr. Elwood.
“I have an ongoing project with a Muon detector that flew on a NASA balloon several years ago. I also have a project in which some students hope to build a Muon detector to sit here on campus. My main project outside of campus is taking care of my two year old and my four year old. That occupies most of my time.”
Dr. Elwood, now a father, looked up to his own dad as a role model. “He’s an organic chemist. He provided a free intellectual environment when I was growing up, and by just being around him, a broad scientific inquiry and interest emerged.”
“Physics is the study of life,” said Dr. Elwood. “I am at my heart a reductionist. The entire universe can be understood very simply in terms of a few fundamental basic laws, and the best way to figure out what those laws are is to look at the fundamental level.”
Dr. Elwood is truly a professor who cares, and, like many other ESU professors, helps to inspire his students every day by adding his personal touch to his teaching.
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