Matt Young
Affiliate Faculty, Department of Physics


I earned a BS and a PhD from the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. Since I concentrated on optical physics, I call myself an opticist. My thesis concerned laser-produced plasmas and represented the first work on that subject at the University. After that, I worked in holography, coherent optics, and solar energy at Rensselaer and the University of Waterloo. I joined the staff at NIST in Boulder, where I studied laser power and energy measurements, optical surface-quality measurements, and certain optical-fiber measurements including refractive-index profile, outside diameter, and numerical aperture. The outside-diameter measurements earned my colleagues and me a Department of Commerce Gold Medal. I also chaired the NIST Boulder Editorial Review Board for over a decade and helped found a program to present science to schoolchildren. I retired from NIST in 1999 (at a very tender age) to join the physics faculty at Mines, where I have taught Advanced Physics Lab, Multidisciplinary Engineering Lab, Senior Design, and Design-EPICS, and developed an EPICS-2 course for physics majors.

In 2001, I was invited to present a paper on intelligent-design creationism, which, at the time I knew nothing about. As a result of that paper, I shortly joined the crew of the influential science blog, The Panda’s Thumb. I co-edited one book and co-authored another book defending science in general and biological evolution in particular against the pseudoscience of creationism. In all (not counting an unpublished tennis book that would have become obsolete the day after the last wooden racket disappeared), I have published 5 books: an optics book that is in its fifth edition, a technical-writing book, a book on science and religion, and the two volumes concerning biological evolution. Between them, the optics and technical-writing books have been translated into five languages.


  • PhD, University of Rochester
  • BS, University of Rochester

Research Areas

  • Optics
  • Optical communications
  • Science & Religion
  • Evolution