A Generation of Space Physics at KU: A Festschrift for Thomas Peyton Armstrong

Edited by Patrick R. Briggs1 and Ramona L. Kessel2

1Dept. of Physics, The Citadel, Charleston, SC
2Hughes STX, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD


A festschrift is "a volume of learned articles, essays, and the like, contributed by colleagues and admirers as a tribute, especially to a scholar." This book is dedicated to Thomas Peyton Armstrong, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas, on his 50th birthday; it is a special type of tribute: the contributions come exclusively from his former students, who consider themselves fortunate to have learned their craft under his guidance.

The idea for this volume arose in a conversation during the winter of 1991 when the Briggses were visiting the Kessels in Atlanta. One of us (PRB) had for some time entertained the idea of doing "something" for TPA's 50th birthday--we kicked some ideas around and the festschrift was born. We immediately sat down and wrote a first letter to be sent to all present and former students who were in some way connected with TPA, theorizing that if it didn't happen right away it might not get done. We solicited scientific papers, anecdotal stories, reminiscences--at that stage unsure what sort of contributions would appear. After composing the letter we began making a list of students; as the list grew we became aware of the large number of students who had been influenced by Tom Armstrong, and we only had some of the addresses we needed. At this point we enlisted Tizby Hunt-Ward, TPA's indefatigable program assistant, who had been in contact with many former students and could provide us with addresses. Since this effort was meant as a surprise for TPA, she also served as an underground liaison at the University of Kansas. Her "co-conspirator" in the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy was Professor Jack P. Davidson, who contacted the Kansas University Press and worked to acquire funding for the printing of this volume. We thank them both for their advice and assistance.

Many people have contributed articles of varying size and content to this festschrift. There are many others we were unable to contact or who found it impossible to submit an article; thus we have included dissertation abstracts from all of Tom's Ph.D. students, including those for which he was the dissertation advisor and those in which he played a major role. Finally, since many of us remember the "fun" side of life with TPA, it seemed not only right but necessary to include some of the documents found in the infamous "wacko file." These make up the final section, and should give the reader an idea of his enduring patience and gentle demeanor. His students invariably refer to him by his initials alone: "TPA" --the mark of a man who has earned respect not by his titles, but by his character.

We are grateful to all the contributors who made this work possible, and also to Prof. Ray Ammar, Chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas, for his generous assistance. We would also like to thank our spouses (Kasey and Bob) who listened and offered suggestions during the process of putting this volume together.

Patrick Briggs
Charleston, DC

Ramona Kessel
Greenbelt, MD

Return to main festschrift page.
Return to Fundamental Technologies Home Page.

Updated 1/21/10
T. Hunt-Ward,