Arguing Particles

By Stephen Cooney

Student with a love and aptitude for physics turns to law

Dan Richford is a senior with a dual degree at the University. His degrees make zero sense when put together: one is in physics and the other is in English. Add a minor in mathematics and Richford probably has one of the most complicated intellects on campus.

When not winning awards for his research, he can often be found working as the Copy Chief of the Hofstra Chronicle. This experience would lead one to believe that Richford is either going to edit for a living or become a physicist. Yet, his friends insist he’s going to law school. We decided to sit him down and sort this nonsense out ourselves.

Q: How did you end up majoring in physics and English?

A: Mostly, because I had time. I was originally an engineering major but the engineering major being five years and being, shall we say, every moment of my life being set from then on, I decided physics was the way to go.

Q: You won an award in physics?

A: I was a research assistant over two summers. We did enough work to put a project together and we took it to an American Physical Society meeting in Upstate New York and we won first prize for undergraduate research.

Q: What type of research?

A: I was doing computer modeling of chemical reaction. I really hate explaining the reaction because in layman’s terms, it was basically making a mixture change from red to blue. These reactions seem like they were not important but it has a whole lot of other applications.

Q: Such as?

A: Specifically for the heart. It is the study of an excitable medium that enters into oscillation, which mimics fibrillation in the heart – a heart attack.

Q: How did the award help the school? Did it help with the Particle Center?

A: When a school has the students that are interested and capable of doing the research there is always a chance that they can get noticed for it. Since we won the awards it raised the profile of the school and that helped the school when applying for funding.

Q: Why don’t you want to work in physics?

A: I don’t not want to work in physics. I just need a change from that whole type of work.

Q: So you are going to law school?

A: I always wanted to go to law school. There isn’t really a pre-law so I studied what I liked. I am going to write a book called ‘Why Do Physicists Go to Law School?’

Q: Are you looking at Hofstra Law School?

A: I am not sure if I am going here. I did an even distribution across the top 100 law schools. The Hofstra bracket has said yes. Plus, they were willing to help me out with the finances. I spoke with President Rabinowitz and Berliner about going to school here too. They are both very nice.

Q: What type of physics do you like the best?

A: I am a big fan of elementary particle physics and it figures that the quantum mechanics course would come right when I was getting ready to graduate.

Q: What is elementary particle physics?

A: Well, it is a step down from chemistry. It deals with atoms and electrons. It is the constituents of atoms; protons and neutrons and their constituents and all the other funny particles that tend to be there, like corks and leptons, neurons, neutrinos.

Q: Since you don’t think you are going to be working with all those fancy particles any more, what type of law do you want to practice?

A: I always liked different languages and different cultures so I am thinking international law.

Q: How is physics going to help with that? I guess physics is a culture, but protons don’t need lawyers.

A: Some protons might; they are kind of squirrelly. There are indistinguishable particles and indistinguishable particles need representation.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  

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