Physics News Archive
Shigeru Okabe (1923–2013)
Shigeru Okabe was born in Kagoshima, studied at the seventh high school of Japan's old education system and at the Faculty of Science, Kyoto University. He majored in experimental nuclear physics under Professor Bunsaku Arakatsu at the Department of Physics in a handicapped environment immediately after World War II and graduated from Kyoto University in 1946. In 1949, he became an assistant professor at Tottori University. . . . Read full story.
09 Aug 14
Hans Svensson (1935–2011)
On January 23, 2012, I received an email message with an attachment from my former coworker Pedro Andreo in Stockholm. The attachment was a PDF file of the latest issue of European Medical Physics News , in which the report of interview with him  and a page in memory of Hans Svensson  were contained. Pedro is one of two authors who wrote about memories of the Swedish radiation physicist Svensson on that page. . . . Read full story.
16 Jan 12
Backscattering of Antiprotons
In the previous essay I wrote about the backscattering (also called reflection) of antiprotons from aluminum wall found by Italian physicists. The ratio of the number of backscattered particles to the number of particles incident on a layer of material is called number backscattering coefficient RN. . . . Read full story.
23 Aug 08
No Surprise to a Radiation Physicist
The e-mail note for "Physical Review Focus 11 August 2008" carried the news story entitled "Antimatter Bounces off Matter" (online Focus story is given in ). The story tells that in the August Physical Review A, a team of Italian researchers reports that a good fraction of a low energy antimatter beam directed at a normal matter wall will bounce right back.. . . . Read full story.
23 Aug 08
Betty F. Maskewitz (1918–2008)
Betty F. Maskewitz, who worked for the formation of the Radiation Shielding Information Center (RSIC; presently Radiation Safety Information Computational Center, RSICC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and was RSIC Director from 1970 to 1988, died on July 22, 2008. She was 90. An obituary with a detailed description of her personal history can be seen in .
- RSICC Newsletter No. 522 (August, 2008).
16 Aug 08
John Hubbell (1925–2007)
From left, the present author, John Hubbell and Jean Hubbell; on the ocasion of John's talk in Tokyo, November 26, 2001.
John Hubbell's sudden passing was reported in the first issue of 2007 of IRPS Bulletin . An obituary and IRPS Members' memories of John Hubbell were published in the next issue [2, 3]. His name has been well known among the radiation physics community by his continued work on X- and gamma-ray attenuation coefficients.
Only a little more than two months before the date of John's passing, I exchanged e-mail messages with him. Neal Carron, the author of the book, "An Introduction to the Passage of Energetic Particles through Matter," asked him by e-mail about my e-mail address to send me a notice of the book's availability. John forwarded me Carron's e-mail message together with the former's note to the latter, in which it was writen that I would actually be an excellent person to write a book review on the latter's important work.
I wrote John that I was not sure if I could write a review, because Carron's book treated much more topics than those I was well acquainted with. Then he wrote me, " I have written a number of book reviews for the Bulletin and for RPC, and have often become acquainted with topics outside my areas of competence, in the course of writing about them, sometimes just listing the book's topical areas." This was a good advice, but it is regrettable that I have not been able to follow it up to now.
Another series of John's forwarding of e-mail notes came in the early February of 2007 about Professor Tomonori Hyodo's passing. Thus the last e-mail exchange I had with him was on Feburary 8, 2007.
- D. Creagh, President's Report, IRPS Bulletin Vol. 21, No. 1 (2007).
- R. Pratt, John Howard Hubbell: April 9, 1925 - March 31, 2007, IRPS Bulletin Vol. 21, Nos. 2 and 3 (2007).
- R. Mainardi et al., Members' Memories of John Hubbell, ibid.
My wife and I sent the following letter of condolences to Mrs. Hubbell.
July 20, 2007
Mrs. Jean Hubbell
Yesterday one of us, Tatsu, made access to the online version of IRPS Bulletin Vol. 21, No. 1 (issued March 2007 and posted on June 7), and found a report written by Dudley Creagh, President of IRPS. The report told about John's passing on March 31, 2007. Tatsu could not believe it first, but he then felt quite sad to be aware that John had been in Heaven already for almost four months.
May we add belatedly our sincere sympathy to that of the many who knew and admired John?
We will never forget that Tatsu got much learning and help from John and that we enjoyed being friends with him. John's enduring contributions and important services in the field of radiation physics would be remembered not only by the people of radiation physics community but also by a lot of scientists and engineers world over for many years to come. We hope that the thought about these would lighten your burden of sorrow to some extent at least.
We also wish to continue receiving your yearly family report with many photographs in exchange for ours through coming years.
Tatsu and Tei
Appended below is also a letter I sent to APS in order to support the nomination of John for APS Fellowship. This will tell the reader about John's great contributions to physics community.
October 30, 2001
ATTN: Fellowship Program
The American Physical Society
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740-2844
U. S. A.
I am writing to you to support the nomination of John Hubbell for APS Fellowship. I would like to describe my personal observations such as would help you understand the depth and breadth of Hubbell's two main contributions to physics community: (1) the compilation of photon interaction data and (2) international services as a founder and the President of the International Radiation Physics Society and as Editor-in-Chief of Radiation Physics and Chemistry.
Hubbell often sent me a thick package of his publications including the one I requested and those I did not, by writing his comments on every material in the package. This habit of his kind sending comes from his enthusiasm to share his knowledge with friends and colleagues, and the same enthusiasm has been the driving force for contribution (1).
The usefulness of Hubbell's publications on contribution (1) is partly indicated by the fact that some of those were identified by ISI as a "Citation Classic," as described in the nomination document. In addition to the referencing reflected by citation frequency, daily referencing to Hubbell's publications is constantly made in many fields of science and engineering related to the measurement and application of X and gamma rays. Therefore, the importance of his publications is enormous.
Hubbell's habit described above also worked well for getting a great number of physicist friends the world over. Recently I witnessed this closely: Hubbell is going to visit Japan in November 2001. A lot of Japanese friends of his wished to meet him on this occasion. Thus, it took more than two months for Hubbell to fix his tight schedule of 10 days by frequent exchange of e-mail messages with the friends. The large friendship he acquired and his kind and patient personality have been very effective to make contribution (2) extremely successful.
Thus I admire John Hubbell as one of the physicists who made important contributions to physics community.
Osaka Prefecture University
FIP APS Member
13 Jan 08
Tomonori Hyodo Died
Tomonori Hyodo, Professor Emeritus of Kyoto Universuty and a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, died on February 1, 2007 at the age of 84. I was informed of this by Takashi Nakamura's e-mail message forwarded from John Hubbell. Prof. Hyodo made much contribution to the shielding of X- and gamma-rays. The following is the excerpt from my e-mail message of 8 February, 2007, written to tell John about my personal relation to Prof. Hyodo.
My contact with Prof. Hyodo was not so deep, but my thesis work on the backscattering of electrons was suggested by a friend of his and my former both, Dr. Shigeru Okabe, from the association of Hyodo's work on the backscattering of gamma-rays. Further, after I had gotten doctor's degree, Okabe thought to recommend me to Hyodo as the associate professor under him. (I didn't accept Okabe's idea, because the university was in turmoil at that time due to a campus dispute and because I wished to do more experiments with the electron linac of the Radiation Center of Osaka Prefecture.) So, I want to offer most sincere sympathy to Prof. Hyodo's family on this occasion.
13 Jan 08
The issue of Asahi-Shimbun dated May 13, 2007, reported that Takenobu Higasimura, a professor emeritus of Kyoto University and radiation physicist, died of liver cancer on May 11 at the age of 79. He was senior to the present author at Arakatsu-Kimura Chair, Department of Physics, Kyoto University.
He had not only the doctor's degree of science but also that of literature. For the latter degree, he studied, by the radiation technology of thermo-luminescence, the distribution of ancient earthenware in Japan in relation to the places of production of clay used.
Higashimura wrote the paper "Monte Carlo calculation of the multiple scattering of the electron" [Memoirs of the Faculty of Engineering, Kyoto University, Vol. 19, No. 2, p. 220 (1957)] together with Tunahiko Sidei and Katuhiro Kinosita. This is one of the earliest studies to use the Monte Carlo method for studying the passage of electrons through matter, and they used not an electronic but a manual calculator for this work.
19 May 07
Lewis V. Spencer (1924–2005)
(See a modified version of this aricle as a PDF file here.)
Lewis V. Spencer and his wife Elizabeth in the spring of 1978 (Courtesy of Elizabeth W. Spencer).
Lewis V. Spencer, known for his seminal work on the theory of electron penetration by the use of the moment method, passed away on November 11, 2005. The present author heard this sad news from John Hubbell and wrote him the following message:
Sat, 12 Nov 2005
Thanks for forwarding me messages about Lew's passing.
I learned much from Lew's wonderful report "NBS Monograph 1" and a related paper published in Physical Review . I first saw him on the occasion of his visit to Japan. He was then awarded the Gray Medal at an international meeting, and was invited to Kyoto by Professor Hyodo to give a lecture. I brought with me new experimental results on the charge deposition distributions of electrons in elemental solids to show them to Lew in Kyoto. He kindly advised me to send them to Martin Berger to compare them with his Monte Carlo results. My coworkers and I sent the paper on that experiment to Physical Review. I guess that the reviewer of that paper was Lew from the reviewer's words and suggestions. When I visited NBS in 1979, I saw him for the second time. I'll never forget comfortable conversations with him. I sincerely wish that Lew now rests peacefully in heaven.
John forwarded the above message to Lew's family as a message "from another of the many world-class researchers around the globe, Prof. Tatsuo Tabata, Osaka, Japan, their lives touched by Lew's work and his life."
- L. V. Spencer, Phys. Rev. Vol. 98, p. 1597 (1955).
13 Nov 05
Note added later
Lew's youngest daughter, Mary Ellen, found this obituary, and wrote the words of thanks on the guest book page of my Web site on July 1, 2008. I got another message from her on September 13, 2009. This time she wanted to know the name of one of the Japanese colleagues of her father in a slide of May 1974. Thus, she and I exchanged some e-mail messages. She kindly wrote me about the Web page where we can read the obituary of Lew carried by The Washington Post.
When I saw Lew for the first time, I was surprised to find that he did not have the right arm, but supposed that he might have lost it in the war. The real cause of his losing not only the right arm but also the right leg is written in the obituary of The Washington Post. When he was bicycling to the train station to pick up the afternoon papers for his delivery route, 12-year-old Lew was run over at a railroad crossing by a coal car. In spite of this accident, Lew continued to play piano with his left hand, mastering difficult pieces. He also became a master one-handed typist, capable of typing 100 words a minute with no errors. —This is a moving story to encourage handicapped young persons, though Mary told me that Lew had never considered himself handicapped. —
16 Sep 09
William L. McLaughlin (1928–2005)
William Lowndes McLaughlin died
October 26, 2005, at his home in Lexington, VA, after a battle with pancreatic
cancer. McLaughlin was a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD and adjunct professor at the University of
Maryland. Being an authority on methods of measuring radiation doses for
processing and protection, he was the author of more than 250 scientific papers,
and has been known worldwide as the father of radiochromic-dye dosimetry. After
his 1996 retirement, he was named a NIST Fellow.
McLaughlin was born March 30, 1928, in Stony Point, TN. He graduated from Potomac
State University and from Hampden-Sydney College in 1949. From 1950 to 1951 he
was a Rotary International Fellow at Tübingen University in Germany and
spent the years from 1954 to 1956 with the U.S. Army Signal Corps on Enewetok and
Bikini islands, measuring radiation at the atomic-bomb test sites.
From 1973 to 1991, he was an advisor to the Accelerator and Environmental Science
Departments, Risø National Laboratory, Denmark; and from 1971 to 1995, to the
Dosimetry Section of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The measurement systems he developed have been converted into commercial products
that are used around the world. He traveled widely on scientific missions and
mentored countless younger scientists from many countries. In 2003 NIST sponsored
a three-day symposium in his honor where colleagues from around the world
delivered scholarly papers based on his work.
McLaughlin's many honors include the U.S. Department of Commerce's Silver Medal
(1969) and Gold Medal (1979); the American Nuclear Society Radiation Science and
Technology Award (1987); the Elsevier Science Journal of Applied Radiation and
Isotopes Gold Medal (1995). He received the Research and Development 100 Award
three times in his career. In 1999 The Washington Academy of Sciences honored him
for "outstanding achievement in the physical sciences."
He was the lead author of two key books in his field, Dosimetry for Food
Irradiation, and Dosimetry for Radiation Processing, as well as
chapter contributions to several other books. He was an editor of numerous other
volumes and of the International Journal of Applied Radiation and Isotopes
He is survived by his wife, Nancy Scott McLaughlin of Lexington, and two sons and
Note by T.T.
I received an e-mail message on McLaughlin's passing from Marc
Desrosiers of NIST by way of John Hubbell. I first wanted to cite it here and got
permission from him. However, I soon got a more detailed obituary for the
Washington Post prepared by Nancy McLaughlin, through Desrosiers and Hubbell. The
above obituary is an adaptation of it.
I saw McLaughlin when I visited NIST in 1979. He kindly told me about his work on
electron beam dosimetry by the use of radiochromic-dye film he had been
developing. I saw him again and again on the occasions of International Meeting
on Radiation Processing. I also have my own copy of the excellent book
Dosimetry for Radiation Processing of which he was the lead author. His
passing is a great loss in the community of radiation dosimetry. I sincerely
wish that he now peacefully rests in heaven.
Note added later
See also .
- A. Miller, "In memoriam: William L. Mclaughlin." Radiation Physics and Chemistry Vol. 76, p. 1223 (2007).
29 Oct 05
Martin J. Berger (1922–2004)
Martin Berger in 1997.
According to an e-mail message from John Hubble,
Martin J. Berger died on November 6, 2004. Berger had a bad fall previous week,
with serious head injuries, and it resulted in his death.
Berger was born in 1922 in Vienna, Austria. He earned a B.S. degree with a major
in physics in 1943, received an M.S. and PhD, in physics in 1951, all at the
University of Chicago. He started to work at the National Bureau of Standards
(NBS) in Washington in 1952, and soon became the Section Chief of the Radiation
Theory Section. He retired in 1988 after 36 years at the NBS (which had by then
become the National Institute of Standard and Technology). He developed the
electron-transport Monte Carlo code ETRAN together with Stephen Seltzer, creating
a field of research where many workers followed . His passing is a great loss
of radiation physics community the world over.
I exchanged letters with him in the early 1970s on the comparisons of his Monte
Carlo and our experimental results on the penetration of fast electrons through
matter. His work has always been stimulus to me. I saw him at the 2nd
International Workshop on Electron and Photon Transport Theory Applied to
Radiation Dose Calculation held in Seattle in 1997, and did not expect that it
would become my last meeting with him.
Note added later
John Hubble sent me a copy of an obituary that had appeared in the Washington Post
. It includes the following passage:
[Berger] was considered the father of modern electron and protpn Monte
Carlo methods. He wrote more than 149 scientific applications, including the seminal
1963 monograph, "Monte Carlo Calculation of the Penetration and Diffusion of Fast
An obitury also appeared in Physics Today .
- R. S. Caswell and R. Loevinger, Appl. Radiat. Isot. Vol. 42, No. 10, p. XIII (1991).
- J. Holley, Washington Post (November 28, 2004).
- S. M. Seltzer and M. Inokuti, Phy. Today Vol. 58, No. 8, p. 67 (2005).
10 Nov 04
Yasumichi Yamamura, President of the Okayama University of Science,
died of cardiac infarction on March 30 at the age of 63. He has done much
theoretical work on atomic collision in solids, especially on physical sputtering
phenomenon, by the use of the Monte Carlo code ACAT developed by his group. In
the early 1980s I was in the Task Group on Plasma-Wall Interaction, Research
Information Center, Institute of Plasma Physics, Nagoya University, together
with him, and remember that he always had original ideas, was lively discussing
with colleagues, and kept joyous mind. His passing is a big loss of Japan's
atomic collision community.
2 Apr 04
Lack of Radiation Physicists in Japan
Das, Professor at the Department of Radiation Oncology, the University of
Pennsylvania, USA, visited
Beam Medical Center in Harima Science Garden City, Hyogo, Japan, from
February 2 to 18, 2004, and did experimental work with the accelerator of the
Center. The Center was opened in April 2001, and is the first facility in the
world to provide proton and carbon-ion beam therapy.
Das said to the author of this news column, "It is a wonderful place, where
patients can stay for a month or two having social relationships among
themselves and playing games etc. while being treated by the machine. However,
the Center lacks radiation physicists. I saw only one physicist there. When we
have such a facility in USA, we employ about 40 physicists." At the University
of Pennsylvania they are planning to install a similar medical accelerator.
21 Feb 04
Sakae Shimizu Died
Asahi-Shimbun dated December 24, 2003, reported that the nuclear physicist
Sakae Shimizu, Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University, had died of pneumonia
on December 13 at the age of 88. He was one of the members of the
investigation team of Kyoto University that went to Hiroshima just after it
had been exposed to a new type of bomb near the end of the 2nd World War. The
team confirmed that it was an atomic bomb. Analyzing the ash collected from
the boat "Fukuryu-maru No. 5" that encountered a nuclear test at Bikini in
1954, he also pointed out that a hydrogen bomb was used for the test. He was
the first director of Radioisotope Research Center (RRC), Kyoto University,
opened in 1971.
I attended Shimizu's lecture course on atomic physics in my undergraduate
days. He was a humorous person, so that his lecture seemed delivered rather
casually. In fact, however, he was a good teacher stressing important points
impressively. At RRC he supervised difficult experiments to measure extremely
small effects, for example, of atomic binding and the centrifugal force, on
nuclear decay. While fighting against a prostate cancer at the age of 79,
Shimizu organized an international meeting of scientists to make proposals for
peace in the 21st century. The meeting was named "Kyoto Forum for World's
Future Generations: Our Conscience and Action," and held in Kyoto in 1995.
Note added later
A long obituary appeared in IRPS Bulletin .
- IRPS Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 3 (2004).
27 Dec 03
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