American Physical Society

Fred Begay - Research Physicist

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Job Info

Los Alamos National Labratories - LANL

Employer Home Page:

Position Type:

Job skills:
Complex problem solving
Synthesizing information
Mathematical skills
Lab or instrumentation skills
Knowledge of physics principles
Modeling or simulation
Data analysis

Fred Begay's Job:
Fred's field of research is thermonuclear fusion. Fusion involving plasmas release a large amount of energy,  and could be the source of clean energy in the future,  but unfortunately,  scientists have not been able to make the process efficient,  as it takes a tremendous amount of energy to cause the fusion to take place.

Career Facts

Employer Type:
Government Agency/Laboratory

Current Location:
Los Alamos, NM

Physics Degree:

Educational Information

B.S. in Physics from the University of New Mexico
Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from the University of New Mexico

More about Fred Begay

Fred Begay's other interests:
Navajo spiritualism is still one of Fred's active interests. He has spent hundreds of hours studying both physics and Navajo religion and found that the Navajo have many religious concepts that have counterparts in physics,  such as relativity,  space-time,  and quantum mechanics.

Direct link to Fred Begay's profile:

Fred Begay


Fred Begay was born on the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation in Colorado. His parents were Navajo and Ute healers and spiritual leaders,  and taught him their ceremonies and religious beliefs. When he was ten,  he was sent to a government-run boarding school where they forced him to learn farming; "our parents didn't speak English,  so they couldn't say,  'I want him to take physics.'" says Fred. At the school,  speaking in Navajo or Ute was discouraged,  and any recitation of traditional prayers was threatened with punishment.

After eight years learning about farming,  Fred joined the Air Force and fought in the Korean War.  After returning from the service,  he took advantage of Veterans benefits and started classes at the University of New Mexico. Unfortunately his schooling had not prepared him for the course work,  so he had to take high school classes at night.

According to Fred,  there was a lot of overlap between what his parents had taught him,  and what he learned in physics. "It turns out many of the prayers and songs have built in lots of science,  " he says."I was immersed in all that knowledge before I even got to the first grade. "

Fred earned his undergraduate,  graduate,  and doctoral degrees from the University of New Mexico,  and went to work for the Los Alamos Nuclear Research Labs.