For several years I worked for Dr. Terry Turner in the field of traffic accident reconstruction. He was a physicist, by training, though never an academic. Having spent a career with Boeing as the director of the company’s Flight Sciences Research Lab, he came by his last profession quite by accident via a seat on a Seattle jury. An expert witness testified on a traffic accident case. Dr. Turner knew that he could do better, so he quit Boeing and became a successful consultant, successful enough to hire me.

A piece in today’s New York Times triggered the reminiscences. Charles Townes died. While both were at McGill University, Prof. Townes was Dr. Turner’s advisor on Terry’s thesis in the field of microwave spectroscopy. Townes earned a Nobel prize for his work on lasers, before assuming a spot with Berkeley’s faculty.