APS News

Eight Fellows Reach Back to the '30s and '40s

The December APS News featured a picture, taken at a Fellows' reception, of Maurice Shapiro, who informed us that he had been elected an APS Fellow in 1946. We wondered if he might be the oldest (in the sense of having been elected the longest ago) surviving Fellow.

Well, we might have known. Not only are there some older Fellows around, three of them are ex- Presidents of APS, and two of those have won Nobel Prizes. In chronological order, they are:

  • Hans A. Bethe, elected Fellow in 1935, served as APS President in 1954, and won the Nobel Prize in 1967;
  • John A. Wheeler, elected Fellow 1937, and served as APS President in 1966. He was one of the inaugural recipients of the APS Einstein Prize in 2003
  • Norman F. Ramsey, elected Fellow 1940, served as APS President in 1978, and won the Nobel Prize in 1989.

In addition to these ex-presidents, we have heard from five other Fellows whose election dates from before 1950. They are:

  • Scott Anderson, elected 1943; founded Anderson Physics Laboratory in Urbana, Illinois in 1944. He is a creative and prolific entrepreneur, who developed metal halide lighting systems. APL now has a 60- to 70-percent worldwide market share of the metal iodides used in metal halide lamps.
  • Leo Beranek, elected 1946; with cofounders Bolt and Newman, Beranek started Bolt, Beranek, and Newman in 1948. BBN began as an acoustical consulting firm, but later entered the budding industry of computing and did contract work with NIH and ARPA.
  • Wilbur Hummon Goss, elected 1946; joined Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in 1942, retiring as assistant director in 1967. Goss had a leading role in the development of the "proximity fuze," which played a key role in the Allied victory in WW II, and the ramjet engine.
  • Maurice Shapiro, elected 1946; founded the Laboratory for Cosmic Ray Physics at the Naval Research Laboratory in 1949, and headed it until 1982. He was also the director of the Nuclear Physics Division of the NRL from 1953 to 1965. In 1970, he helped to organize the APS Division of Astrophysics, and was the Chair of DAP in 1971-72.
  • Abraham Taylor, elected 1948; born in England, he worked at English Electric Company during World War II, then moved to Mond Nickel Company, where he conducted crystallographic investigations of complex Ni-Cr-Ti-Al and similar alloys. He moved to Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, continuing his work on ultrahigh temperature alloys. He received an honorary DSc from the University of Manchester in 1965.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette