On March 1, 2019, Charles A. Steggerda, of Clarksville, MD and Heathsville, VA died following a brief illness. Charles held both Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Charles specialized in the development of techniques and circuitry for the precision timing of events. In the late 1960s, he developed an event timer to detect single photons and time them accurately. It was used to measure the distance from the earth to the moon with extraordinary precision after the Apollo 11 astronauts left a retroreflector on the surface of the moon. In the 1970s, Charles developed circuitry used to make precision measurements of the differential progression of time as a function of altitude. Because of the possibility of variation with latitude, Charles traveled to Thule, Greenland and to Christ Church, New Zealand (as well as Patuxent Naval Air Station) where these measurements were carried out. Our current GPS systems would not work had the results of these experiments not confirmed the predictions of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. In the 1980s, Charles extended his work on precision timing of events involving single photons to allow a delayed random choice of aspects of the measurement, enabling an exquisite new test of the “spooky” features of quantum mechanics. Charles later moved from the Physics Department of the University of Maryland to Honeywell, where he continued his work in the context of satellite and airborne laser ranging systems.
Charles was predeceased by his wife, Anne with whom he enjoyed Scottish dancing, hiking, and traveling. He is survived by his niece, Lynn Taylor (Douglas Scheidt) of Alexandria, VA, his nephew, Cyrus Taylor (Elizabeth) of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and by his many friends.
The family will receive friends at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 12430 Scaggsville Road, Highland, Maryland 20777 on Thursday, March 7 from 10:00 -11:00 AM. Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 AM with interment immediately following at Mt. Zion Cemetery. Arrangements by Donaldson Funeral Home, P.A., Clarksville, MD.