Julie and Julia

By Dr. Stan Trout | Spontaneous Materials

Within the last few days, I submitted the first draft of a writing project. My task was to write a solutions manual for the second edition of Introduction to Magnetic Materials by B. D. Cullity and C. D. Graham. If you are like me, the first edition of this book was your gateway to magnetic materials, and perhaps a well-worn copy sits in your bookcase. In my case, not only do I have both editions of the book, I have the solutions I wrote as a graduate student in 1975, along with some additional comments from teaching with it in the intervening years.

Sadly, Dr. Cullity passed away in 1978, so Chad Graham, who incidental was my thesis advisor in graduate school, updated the material significantly and published the second edition in 2009. Last year, the publishers accepted my suggestion that it would be nice to have a solutions manual for this book. My inspiration was the nicely written solutions manuals I encountered while teaching Physics.

So began my work last fall, doing a problem or two per day. I soon discovered that my notes from graduate school, while helpful, were not nearly as thorough and complete as I remembered. They were in need of a significant upgrade. Of course, the old BASIC programs I wrote long ago to make the graphs needed to be replaced with Excel Spreadsheets, but that wasn’t too difficult to do and of course the modern-day graphs look so much nicer than the ancient versions. It was also fascinating to see how my 23 year-old brain compared to my now 63 year-old brain. Some days, youth won out over age, but not consistently. Some days I was happy to find a more direct or elegant approach, one of the benefits of experience. I also saw how as a graduate student, the quality and clarity of my work improved with each chapter. It was a nice transition to observe.

As I worked on this project, I was reminded of the movie Julie and Julia.[1] Based on a true story, a young woman, Julie Powell, who tries to duplicate all the recipes of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a year, fifty years after its first publication. In my case, I could see spending some quality time with a classic textbook and observing my work from long ago, as an enlightening and gratifying experience, with one big distinction. In the movie, Julia Child was not supportive of Julie Powell’s work, calling it a stunt. In this case, Chad Graham has been completely supportive and happy to help this project come to fruition. For that, I am grateful.

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1135503/

StanAbout the Author
Dr. Stan Trout has more than 35 years’ experience in the permanent magnet and rare earth industries. Dr. Trout has a B.S. in Physics from Lafayette College and a Ph.D. in Metallurgy and Materials Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Stan is a contributing columnist for Magnetics Business & Technology magazine. Spontaneous Materials, his consultancy, provides practical solutions in magnetic materials, the rare earths, technical training and technical writing. He can be reached at strout@ieee.org.