Michael Riordan is Adjunct Professor of Physics at UC Santa Cruz and a Lecturer in the History of Philosophy of Science Program at Stanford University. After earning his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973, he did experimental research in particle physics at MIT, the University of Rochester, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center before turning to the history of physics in the late 1980s. He has written or coauthored highly acclaimed general books on the discovery of quarks, on dark matter and the structure of the Universe, and on the invention of the transistor. In 2002 he received the prestigious American Institute of Physics Andrew Gemant Award for his efforts in communicating physics through his books, articles and television programs.
Riordan leads a group of historians and physicists studying the history of the Superconducting Super Collider, which was terminated by Congress in 1993. In connection with this project, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1999-2000. He originated and teaches a physics department course on the history of 20th century physics titled "The Quantum Century." He also teaches Physics 1: Conceptual Physics.