By John N. Howard
In less than a month, scientists from all over the world will gather at OSA's annual meeting in Rochester, N.Y., U.S.A.—and a select few of them will be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the field of optics with an OSA award. In my upcoming History of OSA column in OPN, I will present a biography of William F. Meggers, who was a renowned spectroscopist, OSA honorary member, and OSA president from 1949-1951. In just a few short weeks, Frédéric Merkt of ETH Zürich, Switzerland, will carry on Megger's legacy when he receives the award named after Meggers. The William F. Meggers award acknowledges outstanding work in the field of spectroscopy.
But back in 1964, it was Meggers himself who was receiving an OSA award. He shared the C.E.K. Mees Medal, which is given to scientists who do excellent interdisciplinary work, with George R. Harrison of MIT. In those days, the awards were bestowed at an OSA ceremonial banquet, held on an evening during an OSA annual meeting. Attendees at the banquet were already aware of the friendly sparring that always occured between Harrison and Meggers, both of whom had been internationally known spectroscopists and long-time friends and competitors.
After Meggers had made his short acceptance speech, he was presented with the C.E.K. Mees Medal. Harrison then remarked to the audience that he planned to design an optical arrangement with mirrors that would enable Meggers' portion of the medal to be seen when the joint medal was displayed! His crack was received with much laughter and applause. And, actually, the Optical Society ultimately addressed that particular issue by presenting each awardee with his own individual medal.
Optics History, OSA Honorary Members, Profiles