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About Our Department

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--Physics B.A., B.S. & Concentration
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About Peter Sheldon

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       Peter Sheldon is the Chair of the Physics Department, and the Pre-Engineering advisor at Randolph. He has a PhD and an MS in Physics from the University of Massachusetts, and has a BA in Physics and a BA in Mathematics from Amherst College. Dr. Sheldon's research net is very wide: he is by education a low-temperature physicist, but has picked up the fields of ultrafast laser spectroscopy and physics education research in the last ten years. He has published in all of these fields.

      Dr. Sheldon is currently getting back to the basics, studying properties of materials, in particular helium films, at low temperatures. In this case, low temperatures refers to temperatures near 1 K (-273 degrees Celsius). At that temperature, helium does some amazing things. One of those things is that it becomes a frictionless fluid - if you start a wave in it, the wave never stops! In addition, he continues to work with his colleagues in ultrafast laser spectroscopy and physics education research. In the latter, he is developing a technology-based curriculum to help middle school teachers teach science.

      Another of Dr. Sheldon's specialties is bringing physics to the general public. He regularly gives talks to all age groups on Amusement Park Physics, Newton's Laws, Pseudoscience, Why Cats Land on Their Feet, and of Innovative Uses of Technology. He is certainly a computer geek, and teaches and uses computers extensively. Dr. Sheldon's recent publications include: "Optical Spectroscopy of Defects in Yttrium Orthovanadate (YVO4) Crystals," Peter Sheldon, Hank Yochum, Wai Sze Cheung (Randolph student) and Katrina Wiechmann (Randolph student), Bulletin of the American Physical Society (April 2007); "The Use of Interactive Technologies to Improve Student Learning from Middle School to College," Peter Sheldon and Tracey Wellington (Randolph student), Bulletin of the American Physical Society (March 2003); "3He spin diffusion measurements in 3He-4He mixture films," P. A. Sheldon and R. B. Hallock, Physical Review Letters 85, 1468 (2000); and "Short pulse excitation and spectroscopy of KNbO3, LiNbO3, and KTiOPO4," H. M. Yochum, P.A. Sheldon et al, Radiation Effects and Defects in Solids 150, 271 (1999).


Department of Physics
Randolph College
2500 Rivermont Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24503
tel.: (434) 947-8488   fax: (434) 947-8333