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Petr Beckmann (November 13, 1924 – August 3, 1993) was a professor of electrical engineering who became a well-known advocate of libertarianism and nuclear power. Later in his life he challenged Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and other accepted theories in modern physics.
|Died||August 3, 1993 (aged 68)|
|Alma mater||Czech Academy of Sciences|
Advocate of nuclear power
Criticism of relativity theory
Criticism of modern physics
|Institutions||University of Colorado|
In 1939, when Beckmann was 14, his family fled their home in Prague, Czechoslovakia to escape the Nazis. From 1942 to 1945, he served in a Czech squadron of the Royal Air Force. He received a B.Sc. in 1949, a Ph.D. in 1955, and a D.Sc. in 1962, all from Prague's Czech Academy of Sciences in electrical engineering. He defected to the United States in 1963 and became a Professor (later, Emeritus) of electrical engineering at the University of Colorado. In the United States, he became acquainted with novelist Ayn Rand, a contributing editor to a publication devoted to her ideas, The Intellectual Activist, and a speaker at The Thomas Jefferson School, an intellectual conference of similar purpose.
Beckmann was a prolific author; he wrote several electrical engineering textbooks and non-technical works. By 1968 he had founded Golem Press, which published most of his books, including The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear (1976), which argued in favor of nuclear power during the height of the anti-nuclear movement by contrasting the cost, in human terms, with the equivalent costs of the alternatives available. Beckmann also wrote A History of π, documenting the history of the calculation of π. He published his own monthly newsletter, Access to Energy, which since September 1993 has been written by biochemist Arthur B. Robinson.
In 1981, he took early retirement with Emeritus status, in order to devote himself fully to what he saw as the defense of science, technology and free enterprise, through his newsletter, Access to Energy. He founded the Golem Press in 1967, publishing more than nine books. These included The History of π, Einstein Plus Two, and The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear (with an Introduction by Edward Teller). He wrote more than 60 scientific papers and eight technical books. Dr. Beckmann spoke at the 1990 San Francisco Conference of International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL), where he received a standing ovation for his speech in which he attacked "sham environmentalists".
Beckmann was also a frequent and colorful participant in Usenet debates. In them, he claimed to have debunked Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity in his book Einstein Plus Two, as well as in a disputatious journal, Galilean Electrodynamics, which he also founded. The History of π also expresses his intense and colorful opposition to Catholicism (and other religions), Nazism, and Communism.
- Probability in Communication Engineering. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World. 1967. OCLC 565718.
- Elements of Applied Probability Theory. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World. 1968.
- Depolarization of Electromagnetic Waves. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1968. ISBN 99957-1-158-3.
- Whispered Anecdotes: Humor from Behind the Iron Curtain. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1969. ISBN 0-911762-04-3.
- A History of π. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1971. ISBN 0-911762-12-4.
- The Structure of Language: A New Approach. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1972. ISBN 0-911762-13-2.
- Eco-hysterics & the Technophobes. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1973. ISBN 0-911762-15-9.
- Orthogonal Polynomials for Engineers and Physicists. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1973. ISBN 0-911762-14-0.
- Elementary Queuing Theory and Telephone Traffic. New York, NY: Flatiron Pub. 1976. ISBN 0-686-98072-7.
- The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1977. ISBN 0-911762-17-5.
- Hammer and Tickle: Clandestine Laughter in the Soviet Empire. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1980. ISBN 0-911762-20-5.
- Einstein Plus Two. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1987. ISBN 978-0-911762-39-6.
- Scattering of Electromagnetic Waves from Rough Surfaces. New York, NY: Artech House Publishers. 1987. ISBN 0-89006-238-2. (with coauthor A. Spizzichino)
- Musical Musings. Boulder, CO: Golem Press. 1989. ISBN 978-0-911762-40-2.