‘Quantum Cowboy’ is teaching students how to live off the land

Man works to restore dilapidated cabin.

On 1,000 acres of verdant grass and dirt trails 35 miles north of Bryan and strewn with some 200 cows and calves, world-renowned Texas A&M University quantum physicist Marlan Scully is cultivating a vision befitting his nickname, “the Quantum Cowboy” — a farm where he combines cutting-edge laser research with student teaching, from the latest in science to more efficient farming.

People are often curious that a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences who literally wrote the book on quantum optics — the application of quantum mechanics to how light interacts with matter — is also a lifelong student of farming, dons a cowboy hat and drives around town in a pickup truck.

“The mystery is not that I’m interested in farming, but that I’m interested in quantum physics,” Scully said. “I grew up in rural Wyoming. My people are homesteaders. My wife’s people are ranchers. I have always appreciated the rural life.”

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