Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, July 12, 2013

Eugen Merzbacher...

April 9, 1921 - June 6, 2013

Chapel Hill
Eugen Merzbacher, prominent theoretical atomic and nuclear physicist, former chair of the Physics Department at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-founder of the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory, died June 6 (Thursday) at UNC Memorial Hospital from complications following surgery. He was 92.

Born in Berlin, Germany, he moved with his family to Turkey in 1935, where they remained throughout World War II. It was there that Eugen obtained an undergraduate degree in physics at Istanbul University. In 1947, he immigrated to the United States, and by 1950 had earned his doctorate in physics at Harvard University. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen a short time later.

Trolling about the Internet, I came upon this rather late...unfortunate. Please forgive my negligence. The passing of great minds gives one pause.

Dr. Merzbacher was obviously an immigrant, and one that contributed mightily to this nation and our understanding of Quantum Mechanics and consequentially, the universe (with no small exaggeration). I studied quantum from a slightly older text I still own and cherish with all its highlights, margin notes and "dog ears." Strange how commodified our conversation has become, the only example of immigrants' impact as a group is the mention of one of the two founders of "Google."

Professor Merzbacher left a legacy behind him in the form of a text now in its third edition, introducing undergraduate and graduate students in physics to the subject so impactful on our modern era. It is a testiment, of what "good things [used to] come out of NC" (my home state) before its recent lurch into backwardness.

APS link: Eugen Merzbacher

A link to the third edition here; an embed of the second below:

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