Scientific Seen

News, Commentary, and Tutorials from a Scientific Perspective


It’s traditional to introduce oneself, and who am I to break with tradition (at least in this case)?

My name is Richard Gaughan. I got my undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Chicago, completed all coursework for a Master’s in physics at San Jose State University (although never completed a thesis, and thus have no official Master’s degree). I worked for Lockheed and for Lawrence Livermore Labs for over twenty years where I worked on a wide range of projects, mostly in optical systems engineering, from concept to delivery.

Some of the projects I’ve worked on:
-the commercial remote sensing satellite, which became the Ikonos satellite. The header image on my blog is taken by Ikonos (Easter Island), and grateful acknowledgement is given to them. You can find other Ikonos images at
-the Starlab pointing and tracking experiment, which was scheduled to be the largest single experiment ever flown in the space shuttle (until it was cancelled after 5 years of work!).
-an underwater fiber optic acoustic network that used tiny Fabry-Perot resonators as microphones in a distributed multi-wavelength network.
-the control system brassboard for the Airborne Laser Program, a scaled atmospheric propagation simulator which was used to both demonstrate the performance and optimize the control system for the three-laser tracking system.
-the sensor suite requirements generation, design, and test for a number of microsatellites, optimized for specific mission scenarios.
-optical metrology for the Extreme-Ultraviolet Lithography program, designed to decrease the feature size in future microelectronics.

Somewhere in the midst of that engineering work I began to do some part-time writing. I’ve published more than 200 articles in engineering and scientific trade magazines, more than 400 short articles for various online outlets, and more than a thousand short abstracts summarizing biological, medical, physical, and chemical research and development.

I also wrote the book Accidental Genius: The World’s Greatest By-Chance Discoveries, which has been translated into German, Japanese, Korean, and French, and has been published in South Africa, Canada, Australia and other countries.

I believe science is the most effective process for discovering “truth” (although I do believe people can find valuable tools for living better lives through levels of belief that create another level of “reality” for themselves), and that the world will be a better place the more people that have an understanding of science. I hope this blog will help increase the level of scientific understanding—if only by a minuscule amount.

This blog consists of links to articles that have been published elsewhere along with original content only available here.