University of Texas
Ronald G. Parsons
(April 1, 1938–)

 

 

Ronald Gene Parsons

 

Ronald G. Parsons got his PhD from Stanford University.

I grew up in the small Indiana farming community of Wolcott, a short distance north of Lafayette where I was born on April Fools Day in 1938. I had a brother, Byron, who was 18 years older than I and two sisters, Helen and Marian, 14 and 10 years older, respectively. My parents, Guy and Frances Louis Hinchman Parsons, are buried in a small cemetery, Meadow Lake, about four miles south of Wolcott. Our old house in Wolcott is still there, freshly painted and looks in good condition. My father had a restaurant and bakery in Wolcott, but during the war in 1943, we moved to the northern Indiana town of La Porte, where my father worked in the war industry at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant and Allis-Chalmers.

I attended grade school, junior high and one year of high school in La Porte. In 1953, my father decided to open a root beer stand in Texas where he had a friend who had the Texas franchise for B&K root beer. He picked Gainesville and we packed up our belongings in a small car and a onewheel trailer and headed south. I think my father had a wanderlust and worked in many occupations in his life. He was a man that everyone instinctively liked. He could talk to anyone. His personality was ideal for a small business selling directly to the public.

I attended Gainesville High School for three years. During that time, I became interested in amateur (ham) radio, and got my FCC license in March of 1954 with the call sign WN5DLG. I have remained active in the hobby all my life, holding call signs W5DLG, K8DKE and, currently the extra class license, W5RKN. I was what you would call a geek in high school. I loved math, science, photography and music and played first trumpet in the band and was president of the band my senior year.( At right is Ron's photo as President of the Gainesville High School Band.)

In 1955, I contracted polio and spent the next 9 months in the hospital and rehabilitating at the Gonzales (Texas) Warm Springs Foundation. I did, however, finish the remaining needed school credits at Gonzales and graduated with my class in Gainesville in 1956.

My parents moved back to their mid-west roots, selling the root beer stand in Texas, and moving to Lebanon, Ohio, where my sister, Helen, lived. I enrolled in college at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in the electrical engineering curriculum. At the urging of one of my freshman year professors, I changed my major to physics in my sophomore year. I worked my first summer for my brother-in-law at his surveying company and the next two summers at the Betatron Laboratory in Champaign. The same professor who steered me into physics, suggested that I apply to graduate schools in physics, specifically Cal Tech and Stanford. I was accepted to both, and chose Stanford, even though I was somewhat taken aback by the acceptance letter from Leland Stanford Junior University, until I realized that it was named for Leland Stanford, Jr. and was not a junior university. Skipping my graduation ceremony, I headed west for a summer job at Stanford before classes started in the fall of 1961. That summer was culturally interesting, living in a dorm with a collection of Jesuits from Fordham University, faculty from the American University in Beirut and teachers from California secondary schools.

I chose theoretical physics as a major, receiving a M.S. in 1964 and a Ph.D. in 1966. After graduating, I received two post-doctoral appointments, first at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the second at Northeastern University in Boston. Apparently I had forgotten what northern winters were like after six years in sunny California. My first (and only) Thanksgiving 1 in Boston was spent snowed in for a week. I decided to look for a position in warmer climes and was offered a position as a professor at The University of Texas at Austin, which I immediately accepted and gave up my second year at Northeastern.

UT Physics Department, 1970. Ron Parsons, right end of front row.

While at Stanford, I met and in 1964 married a doctoral student in education also at Stanford, Jane Steig. We had our first child, Monique, in 1967, a couple months before moving to Boston. At a very early age, she insisted that her name was Kali, a name she still uses. Our second child, Vincent, was born in 1972.

My interest in physics veered from elementary particle physics to the science of information behind physics. In a few years, I had joint appointments in physics, computing and the UT Library. This led to a job offer in 1973 from MRI Systems Corporation, a spinoff from UT which developed and marketed a data base software system for large mainframes. This completed my transformation from physicist to information scientist. I worked in various line and staff positions at MRI, including work with NASA and Ford. MRI was acquired by Intel Corporation and I stayed with Intel until 1985 when our operation was acquired by SAS Institute. Soon I joined with a small group of software developers and did software development consulting, mainly advanced projects for Apple Computer, until 1992 when I retired. My son, Vincent, got his feet wet in high school doing programming with this group.

Soon after arriving at UT, I became involved with the Early Music Program in the Department of Music. My interests were Baroque and Renaissance recorder and flute, and krummhorns. I performed in several concerts during this period. I developed and taught several times a Physics course Acoustical Foundations of Music. The course drew about half music majors (who were amazingly unknowledgeable about their instruments and the scientific basis of their craft) and a variety of other students from across the spectrum. The course required the students to build and analyze a musical instrument.

An early user of home computing, I built two computers in the late ‘70s – a hand-held device which I made into a Tic-Tac-Toe game among other devices, and a Processor Technology Sol-20, which I used in one of my other hobbies – model railroading. I published several articles in Model Railroader and had an 11 second segment in the PBS TV show The Triumph of the Nerds in which Vincent and I (in a long beard) demonstrated computer control of a model railroad layout. In March of 1984, soon after the introduction of the Apple Macintosh, I acquired one of the first in Austin.

In retirement, I remain active in a variety of projects, often associated with ham radio. I was an early user of packet digital radio and used it in conjunction with the government’s GPS activities to build location reporting devices using ham radio. Practical applications of this included working with the Austin Motorola Marathon, the Capitol 10k race and the MS-150 bike race between Houston and Austin.

With a group of other hams, I applied to NASA and the American Radio Relay League to set up a ham radio link to one of NASA’s astronauts on the shuttle. After a two year wait, we received a schedule in May 1998 to contact Andy Thomas on the Russian MIR space craft. We worked in conjunction with Fulmore Junior High School to select a group of students to ask questions of the astronaut.

We lifted special antennas to the roof of the school and set up the radios in the library. After a couple minute delay (Andy said he had to talk to Houston), he showed up on the radio and many students were able to ask their questions. What a thrill for all involved.

The activity was repeated twice ten years later in July and October 2008 after three months of preparation work. The first contact was arranged for a group of Scouts based at Blackland Prairie Elementary School in Round Rock. This time the space craft was the International Space Station (ISS) and the astronaut was Greg Chamitoff. The second was with the Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School in Austin. An Austin resident, Richard Garriott, paid about $30 million for a two-week stay on the International Space Station and selected LASA as one of his many ham radio contacts with students. I have continued a relationship with LASA and their ham radio station K5LBJ. In 2014, I was one a several other stations celebrating the Centennial of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) by operating as the Texas representative of the ARRL station W1AW/5 and celebrating the 40th anniversary of .one of the first amateur radio satellites, Oscar 7, in November 2014. In April 2018, I assisted with another student contact with the International Space Station with the Salado Intermediate School.

In 2010, I was approached by a former neighbor, Jim Lindley, a fellow ham and living near Fredericksburg, Texas, to help with an organization there, SystemsGo, which provides a rocket science curriculum for high school students and rocket launch opportunities each Spring. I helped develop an amateur radio based GPS tracking for their rockets. Needing rocket launch opportunities to test our systems, my grandson Nicholas and I entered a new hobby, Sport Rocketry. Over several years, my new hobby expanded to our launching rockets over ten feet in length to heights over 7000 feet. I earned both Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 High Power Certification from the National Association of Rocketry and the Tripoli Rocketry Association. Nicholas earned his Junior High Power Participation when he turned 14. I provided radio tracking support for Jim Jarvis in his record-breaking flight to over 118,000 feet in September 2013 in Nevada.

In 2016, I was awarded the Satellite Worked all States (WAS ) and the Satellite Worked all Continents (WAC) certificate by the American Radio Relay League for having confirmed twoway conversations with another ham radio operator in all 50 states, relaying the radio signal through amateur radio satellites, and all 6 continents. I also received the Satellite VUCC (VHF UHF Century Club) award with a 650 contact endorsement and the 50 MHz VUCC award with a 250 contact endorsement.

In 1999, I was divorced from Jane (Jane died in January 2019). Subsequently, I met the widow of a Lebanese man, Kathy Khazen. She had grown up in New Braunfels and had attended The University of Texas (before I came to town). Kathy Khazen and I were married on November 24, 2003. She has four children and five grandchildren. My daughter Kali has two children, Benjamin and Nicholas, and married another Parsons, David Parsons, thus not changing her last name. My son Vincent is married to Ann Perez and has two children, Emma and Nathan.

I have published over 70 articles on physics, computing, ham radio, rocketry, model railroading and other topics. See Bibliography pdf.

"Bibliography
Ronald G. Parso"

Double-Charge-Exchange Scattering of Pions from Nuclei
R. G. Parsons, J. S. Trefil and S. D. Drell Bull. Am. Phys. Soc. 9. 738 (1964).

Double-Charge-Exchange Scattering of Pions from Nuclei
R. G. Parsons, J. S. Trefil and S. D. Drell Phys. Rev. 138, 8847 (1965).

Asymmetric Mu-Pair Photoproduction at Small Angles Ronald G. Parsons
Bull. Am. Phys. Soc.11, 397, (1966).

Asymmetric Mu-Pair Photoproduction and Quantum Electrodynamics at Small Distances
R. G. Parsons
Phys. Rev. 150, 1165 (1966).

"The Spectrum of Alkali-Atoms
Ronald G. Parsons and Victor F. Weisskopf Zeitschrift fur Physik, 202, 492 (1967)."
"Precise Theory of the Zeeman Spectrum for Atomic Hydrogen and Deuterium and the Lamb Shift Stanley J. Brodsky and Ronald G. Parsons
Phys. Rev. 163, 134 (1967) and erratum 176, 423 (1968).

Estimate of the 6th Order Contribution to the Anomalous Magnetic Moment of the Electron Ronald G. Parsons
Phys. Rev. 168, 1562 (1968).

Leptonic Decays of Neutral Vector Mesons and rho-omega Interference Ronald G. Parsons and Roy Weinstein
Phys. Rev Letters 20, 1314, (1968).

Determination of the Real Part of the Compton Amplitude at a Nucleon Resonance Stanley J. Brodsky, Anthony C. Hearn and Ronald G. Parsons
Phys. Rev. 187, 1899 (1969)."

"Certification of Algorithm 147 Ronald G. Parsons
Communications of the ACM 12, 691 (1969)."

"Relative Phase Angles in Leptonic Decay of Photoproduced Vector Mesons Ronald G. Parsons, Gary K. Greenhut and Roy Weinstein
Abstract submitted to the International Symposium on Electron and Photon Interactions at High Energies, Liverpool,
England, September 1969.

A Measurement of Muon Pair Electroproduction
R. G. Parsons, D. Earles, et al.
Abstract submitted to the International Symposium on Electron and Photon Interactions at High Energies, Liverpool,
England, September 1969.

Book Review: Introduction to Quantum Field Theory by P. Roman Ronald G. Parsons
American Journal of Physics 38, 116 (1970).

Rho-omega Interference and the omega-phi Mixing Angle Ronald G. Parsons
Phys. Rev. 188, 2277 (1969).

Relative Phase Angles in Leptonic Decay of Photoproduced Vector Mesons Gary K. Greenhut, Roy Weinstein and Ronald G. Parsons
Phys. Rev. D 1, 1308, ( 1970).

Measurement of Electroproduction of Muon Pairs
D. R. Earles, ... ,R. G. Parsons, et al. Phys. Rev. Letters 25, 129 (1970).

t-channel Transformation Matrices for Helicity and Invariant Amplitudes for gamma + N --> o- + B Robert Beck Clark, Ben L. Manny and Ronald G. Parsons
Annals of Physics 69, 522 (1972).

s-channel Transformation Matrices for Helicity and Invariant Amplitudes for gamma + N --> o- + B Ronald G. Parsons
Annals of Physics 72, 171 (1972).

An Adaptation of the AIP ""Searchable Physics Information Notices"" for CDC 6000 Computers Ronald G. Parsons
Report CPT-118 September 1971, Revised February 1972.

s- and t-channel Transformation Matrices for Helicity and Invariant Amplitudes for gamma + N --> 1 -
+ B"

"Ronald G. Parsons, Ben L Manny and Robert Beck Clark
Annals of Physics 80, 387 (1973)."

"Data Manipulation Language Requirements for Data Base Management Systems Ronald G. Parsons, Alfred G. Dale and Christopher V. Yurkanan
The University of Texas at Austin
Computation Center Report TSN-27 (October 1972).

A Structure Processing Sub-Language for Data Base Management Ronald G. Parsons, Alfred G. Dale and Christopher V. Yurkanan The University of Texas at Austin
Computation Center Report TSN-28 (October 1972).

Techniques for Decreasing the size of SYSTEM 2000 Data Bases Ronald G. Parsons
The University of Texas at Austin
Computation Center Report TPB-145 (June 1973).

Document Retrieval by Means of an Automatic Classification Algorithm for Citations Julie Bichteler and Ronald G. Parsons
Information Storage and Retrieval 10, 267 (1974).

Evaluation of Current Awareness Service for Physics and Astronomy Literature Jean K. Martin and Ronald G. Parsons
Journal of the American Society for Information Science, MayJune, 1974, p. 156.

Data Manipulation Language Requirements for Data Base Management Systems Ronald G. Parsons, Alfred G. Dale and Christopher V. Yurkanan
The Computer Journal !I. 99 (1974).

SC/MP Addressing
Ronald G. Parsons
PRINT-OUT!, No. 6, p. 8 (1977).

More Calculator Tricks
Ronald G. Parsons
PRINT-OUT !• No. 9, p. 12 (1977).

8080 Assembler Mods
Ronald G. Parsons
PRINT-OUT!· No. 10, p. 4 (1977).

A Selectric Interface for the Sol Ronald G. Parsons
PRINT-OUT !• No. 12, p. 3 (1977).

Power Supply Fix Upper Case Sol Fix
Ronald G. Parsons
PRINT-OUT 1, No. 14, p. 5 (1977).

SOLUS News-Q, No. 3, p. 7 (Dec. 1977)."

"The Value of a High Level Language in DBMS Ronald G. Parsons
MRI Report!, No. 3 (1977).

COBOL not High Level Enough for DBMS Ronald G. Parsons
Computerworld, January 9, 1978, p. 38.

Processor Technology's Helios II Disk Memory System Ron Parsons
PRINT-OUT 2, p. 6 (Jan/Feb 1978).

Salus News-1. p. 4 (Jan/Feb 1978).

My Sol and CP/M --- and a Helios???
Ron Parsons
SOLUS News l• p. 5 (April 1978).

Wanted: High-Level DBMS Language Ronald G. Parsons
Data Management (DPMA), May 1978, p. 21.

Future Languages for DBMS Ronald G. Parsons
MRI Report£, No. 2 (June 1978).

Dytron 32K Static Memory Board Tarbell Disk Interface Mods
Ron Parsons
PRINT-OUT 2, No. 6, p. 6-7 (June 1978).

SOLUS News-1. p. 7 (June 1978).

SC/MP Control Panel
Ronald G. Parsons
COMPUTE (NSC), May/June 1978, p. 12-14.

One DBMS Standard Not Enough for Users Ronald G. Parsons
Computerworld, June 5, 1978, p. 49.

Whither DBMS Standards Ronald G. Parsons
Infosystems, Sept. 1978, p. 64.

Disk Power!
Ronald G. Parsons
Kilobaud Microcomputing, Feb. 1979, p. 56."

"UCSD PASCAL to CP/M File Transfer Program Ronald G. Parsons
Dr. Dobb's Journal, V. 4, No. 7, p. 12, Aug. 1979.

UCSD PASCAL Terminal Parameters Ronald G. Parsons
Dr. Dobb's Journal, V. 5, No.2, p. 34, Feb. 1980.

An Answer/Originate Modem Ronald G. Parsons Byte, June 1980, p. 24

Paint Shop: Scrap Service Gondola Vincent and Ronald Parsons Model Railroader, January 1981

Planning a Layout for Family Use Ronald Parsons
Model Railroader, December 1981

How Many Angels Can Dance on a Function Key?
Ronald G. Parsons
PC Magazine, September 1983, p. 586.

Software Review: SuperWriter Ronald G. Parsons
Dr. Dobb's Journal, V. 8, No. 11, p. 94, Nov. 1983.

Put a FULLBACK On Your Team Ronald G. Parsons
PC Magazine, December 1983, p. 662-665.

Software Review: PC-Write Ronald G. Parsons
Dr. Dobb's Journal, V. 9, No.8, p. 122, Aug. 1984.

Software Review: PC-Small-C 2.0 Ronald G. Parsons
Dr. Dobb's Journal, V. 9, No.8, p. 122, Aug. 1984.

Software Review: Mychess Ronald G. Parsons
Dr. Dobb's Journal, V. 9, No. 11, p. 95, Nov. 1984.

Hum ??? for *.*
Ronald Parsons
PC World Magazine, Nov. 1984, p. 311"

"Software Review: VSI - Virtual Screen Interface Ronald G. Parsons
Dr. Dobb's Journal, V. 10, No.1, p. 102, Jan. 1985.

Software Review: EC Editor Ronald G. Parsons
Dr. Dobb's Journal, to be published.

Let's Mouse Around
Vincent L. B. Parsons and Ronald G. Parsons Dr. Dobb's Journal, April 1985

More Turbo Pascal Mouse Tricks Ronald G. Parsons
PC Tech Journal, July? 1985.

Software Review: Sidekick Ronald G. Parsons
Computer Language, to be published.

Computer Control on the LGSF Ron Parsons
Model Railroader, to be published (February 1986 or 1987?).

Ten Principles for Planning a Family Model Railroader Ronald Parsons
Toy and Model Trains Magazine, Winter 1987/88

Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires Ron Parsons and Vincent Parsons
PBS Video, June 1996 – Part 1, about 45 minutes in
""The Apple II set a new standard for personal computers and showed there was some real money to be made. Rival companies popped-up all over, but the market was still hobbyists -- guys with big beards who thought a good use for their computer was controlling a model train set. But for microcomputers to be taken seriously, they had to start doing things that needed doing -- functions that were useful, not just for fun.""
Other versions:
“Triumph of the Nerds” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX5g0kidk3Y 38:20
https://vimeo.com/124201377 39.45

A Recommendation for Doppler Tuning Parsons, Ron, W5RKN,
AMSAT Journal, March/April 1996, p. 18."

"The BRB900 GPS Tracker for Rockets Ronald Parsons, W5RKN
Rockets Magazine, June 2011, p. 54

Interlock Timer Circuit Protects your Preamps Ronald G. Parsons, W5RKN
AMSAT Journal, May/June 2013, p. 20.

A Full-Duplex VHF-UHF Satellite System Using SDR Ronald G. Parsons, W5RKN
AMSAT Journal, July/August 2013, p. 12.

Selecting Antennas for Rocket Tracking
Ronald Parsons, W5RKN and Nicholas Parsons Rockets Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2014, p. 17

UPDATE: A Full- Duplex VHF-UHF Satellite System Using Flex SDR Ronald G. Parsons, W5RKN
AMSAT Journal, January/Frbruary 2016, p. 9.

My Software Defined Radio Satellite Station – Version Four Ronald G. Parsons, W5RKN
AMSAT Journal, January/Frbruary 2018, p. 7.

Advantages of Software-Defined Radio for Amateur Satellite Operation Ronald G. Parsons, W5RKN
QST, January 2019, p. 44"

"L/v Mode Enhancement to SDR Satellite Station Ronald G. Parsons, W5RKN
AMSAT Journal, November/December 2"
"018, p. 13."