Prof. Narciso Garcia was born on September 4, 1940 in Burgos, Spain, and came to the United States to study at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1963. In 1969, he received a Ph.D. in physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He joined the faculty of Queens College that year and became a driving force in the creation of a graduate physics program there. He was adviser to the program's students until his death in 1996 at the age of 55.
Prof. Garcia's experiments at Queens College with photons and microwave radiation offered a powerful demonstration of the resemblance between light and matter established by quantum theory. In their experiments, the researchers showed that it was possible to momentarily trap photons, the elemental components of light and all electromagnetic radiation, in a disordered medium. By shooting microwave radiation through a tube filled with aluminum and Teflon balls and monitoring the energy signature that passed through them, they found that some of the photons were briefly "localized," stored in the pellets. Prof. Hans Christian von Baeyer, an author and physics professor at the College of William and Mary, assessed the discovery in the May-June 1992 issue of the magazine The Sciences. Prof. von Baeyer said the finding capped a decades-long effort to show that the theories of Prof. Phillip Warren Anderson, who won the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics, were "applicable not only to electron waves but also to light waves and even sound." In 1958, Prof. Anderson predicted that electrons could be trapped in a crystal impregnated with randomly spaced impurity atoms. The effect is now known at Anderson localization. Along with Arthur Damask, a colleague at Queens College, Prof. Garcia was co-author of a popular textbook, "Physics for Computer Science Students" (Springer-Verlag, New York), which examines classical and quantum physics, then uses those concepts to explain the inner workings of the microprocessors at the heart of computers and other electronic devices.