Physics of Scale Activities

Peter Heller


American experimental physicist. Earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1963 at Harvard University. Heller studied under George Benedek. Working together, they studied the F19 nuclear magnetic resonance (nmr) in the antiferromagnet MnF2 in its critical region. This began with a study of the nmr critical linewidth anomaly and the pressure dependence of the Neel temperature (approx. 67.3ºK). As a continuing part of his PhD thesis, Heller observed the effects of the applied magnetic field on the manganese spin sublattices in order to determine the temperature dependence of the F19 frequency in zero applied field. From this Heller and Benedek showed that the order parameter critical exponent for MnF2 was very close to the value 1/3 instead of the value 1/2 predicted by mean field theory. This work helped establish that non-classical critical exponents occur in real systems, attracting the attention of many physicists. In 1967, Heller wrote an influential article that reviewed all the experimental data on phase transitions to that date. Heller focused the latter part of his academic career on teaching and physics education generally, especially through experiment.

Peter Heller is a Professor Emeritus of Physics at Brandeis University.

Click here to read the INTERVIEW.



(this interview is maintained by Karl Hall. )