About Professor Emeritus Albert A. Bartlett

Professor Emeritus Al Bartlett

Professor Emeritus Al Bartlett (1923-2013) received a BA degree from Colgate University and MA and PhD degrees in Nuclear Physics from Harvard University in 1948 and 1951, respectively. He was a faculty member at the University of Colorado at Boulder since 1950. He was President of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1978. In 1981 he received the Association's Robert A. Millikan Award for his outstanding scholarly contributions to physics education.

In 2008, Prof. Al Bartlett was one of the winners of The Population Institute's 2008 Global Media Award. Watch Prof. Bartlett's short acceptance speech. (Also see this ten minute video tribute to Prof. Al Bartlett.)

Beginning in 1944, Al Bartlett worked for 25 months in Los Alamos. Here is more information about Al Bartlett at Los Alamos, with photos. The Fall, 1995 interview of Al Bartlett by Paul Nachman covers Al's earlier years.

Dr. Albert A. Bartlett joined the faculty of the University of Colorado in Boulder as a Professor of Physics in September, 1950. In 1969 and 1970 he served two terms as the elected Chair of the Faculty Council of all four campuses of the University of Colorado. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 2001 Dr. Bartlett testified before the US Congress on energy policy. He was awarded one of the first annual M. King Hubbert Awards at the ASPO USA Denver World Oil Conference in the Fall of 2005.

Dr. Bartlett gave his celebrated lecture, Arithmetic, Population and Energy 1,742 times since September 1969 (average of once every 8.5 days)1.

Reprints of Prof. Bartlett's papers have been published by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in the book, "The Essential Exponential! For the Future of Our Planet." The book was complied by University of Nebraska physicists and features articles from Bartlett and other scholars on the topic of exponential human population growth and the increasing rate of natural resource consumption, which can not continue unabated.

Dr. Al Bartlett

In the late 1950s Professor Bartlett was an initiator of a citizens' effort to preserve open space in Boulder, Colorado, which ultimately led to the formation of The City of Boulder's Open Space Program. By 1999, the Program has purchased over 26,000 acres of land for preservation as public open space. Professor Bartlett was a founding member of PLAN-Boulder County, a City and County environmental group. Professor Bartlett was also an initiator of the "Blue Line" amendment that kept houses from being built info Boulder's foothills by restricting city water supply to a maximum elevation.

Few people have contributed as much over the years to physics education as Professor Albert Bartlett. Teachers have regularly used snippets from his "et cetera..." column in The Physics Teacher. His paper "Physics from the News: Curve Fitting" in the May issue of The Physics Teacher deserves careful reading. In this article, Professor Bartlett carefully analyzes the Transportation Department estimate that a single 40,000-kg truck does as much damage to an interstate highway as 9,600 cars in order to illustrate how "real world" physics problems can be incorporated into our physics teaching. The paper "Graphical representations of Fraunhofer interference and diffraction", by Bartlett and Bruce Mechtly, American Journal of Physics 62, 501-510 (1994), is also highly recommended.


See the interviews section for various interviews of Al Bartlett, including the comprehensive Fall, 1995 interview of Al Bartlett by Paul Nachman.

Additional biographical references on Albert A. Bartlett

Al Bartlett photographs

The Albert A. Bartlett collection was donated to the Bowling Green State University Historical Collections of the Great Lakes on November 24, 1992. This 1.5 cubic foot collection contains photographs, audiotapes, and printed items regarding Albert A. Bartlett's employment on the Great Lakes iron ore freighters PONTIAC and PETER WHITE in 1941 and 1942. Literary rights to this collection have been dedicated to the public. Photocopying for research and conservation purposes is permitted.


1. In honor of Prof. Bartlett, the CU Environmental Center announced a program during Summer, 2013 in which 50 student and community volunteers received training in exchange for a commitment to give Bartlett’s talk at least three times in 2013-14.

Al Bartlett Photos courtesy Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado
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