About Art Hobson

Art Hobson started life in Philadelphia in 1934. His family moved to Manhattan, Kansas, in 1946, where he developed a passion for the trombone and jazz. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas in Denton in 1955, was drafted and served in U.S. Army bands and the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra in Europe during 1955–57, and then spent many months in New York City looking for steady employment as a musician. He decided that it might be better to switch to a different field.

As a devotee of both the arts and sciences, Art found it congenial to move from music to physics. In 1964 he received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Kansas State University and joined the physics faculty at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where he remains. His publications include Concepts in Statistical Mechanics (a research monograph), Physics and Human Affairs (an earlier textbook), The Future of Land-Based Strategic Missiles (an arms control study by a team of physicists, co-authored and co-edited by Art), Phyiscs: Concepts and Connections (currently in its 5th edition and used on over 100 college campuses), and over 100 papers on theoretical physics, the control and reduction of nuclear weapons, and physics education. He served for nine years as editor of the quarterly newsletter Physics and Society, and was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1992 “for numerous contributions in the area of physics and society.” He is a coorganizer of the American Association of Physics Teachers’ physics and society education group. He won the University of Arkansas Fulbright College of Arts and Sceince’s Master Teacher Award in 1989. In 2006, he received the AAPT’s Millikan Award “for notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics.” He writes a regular op-ed column, about topics at the interface between science and society, for four local newspapers in Northwest Arkansas.

In 1975, Art developed a new kind of physics course for nonscientists, one that connected physics to our society and culture. The course grew in size and popularity, and in 1989 he received the College of Arts and Science’s Master Teacher Award for this achievement. His textbook, Physics: Concepts and Connections, is an outgrowth of that course. As of 2005, the book was being used in over 100 colleges and universities plus a few high schools. The book is a general introductory physics textbook, written in a non-technical, non-mathematical style that is suitable for non-scientists and scientists alike. It stresses such social implications as global warming, pseudoscience, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and energy resources. Unlike most introductory textbooks, over half of the book is devoted to fascinating modern topics such as the big bang, dark matter, dark energy, high energy physics, and the mysteries of quantum physics.

The first two editions of Physics: Concepts and Connections were dedicated to Art’s two children, whom he raised as a single father. He is delighted to have married Marie Riley, to whom the third edition was dedicated, in 1997. The fourth edition is dedicated to his other wonderful son, Justin Riley, and the fifth to his grandsons Jordan and Parker. Although he retired in 1999, he still pedals his bicycle to the university every day and is as overinvolved as ever. As of 2013, he is writing a book titled “Tales of the Quantum: unraveling science’s most fundamental theory,” to be published in 2015 by the Oxford University Press. He and Marie love to travel and often combine business trips to foreign lands with vacations. He loves skiing, the theater, concerts, the beach, reading, writing, and bicycling. Although he’s lost his trombone “chops,” he values his arts background, remains an avid lover of jazz, and even pounds out an occasional tune on the piano.