As a boy, Horace Richard Crane – “Dick” to his friends – built a transmitter with a Ford spark coil to send messages in Morse code around his neighborhood in California.
In 1926, he carried this passion for science into the world of higher education, enrolling as a freshman at the California Institute of Technology.
Years later, during his graduate studies, Crane helped build an accelerator used to produce beams of highly charged particles for nuclear research.
This early work culminated in the creation of the Race Track Synchrotron, a racetrack-shaped ring of electromagnets that’s duplicated in most modern particle accelerators.
As a physics professor at the University of Michigan, Crane continued to innovate, creating a “push button” machine for students to provide instant “yes or no” reactions to questions.
The method allowed him to easily gauge class comprehension of a topic. “We run these courses for the students,” he said, “not the faculty.”