Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Journal publishes Stanley Ruby obituary



Here is the Stanley Ruby obituary from Hyperfine Interactions, as downloaded from the Springer-Verlag library of scholarly journals. Thank you to Gopal Shenoy for making this happen and keeping us informed. It is wonderful to have this assessment by three of Stan's peers of his impact in the physics world.





OBITUARY
Stanley Ruby 1924–2004
Gopal Shenoy & Gennadii Smirnov & John Arthur
© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006
Hyperfine Interact
DOI 10.1007/s10751-006-9348-8


Stanley L. Ruby, who made major contributions to Mössbauer spectroscopy and who inspired the community with the idea of observing the Mössbauer effect using synchrotron radiation, passed away on October 18, 2004, in Los Gatos, California. His boundless intellectual curiosity and passion for life was an inspiration to all around him, especially his scientific colleagues.

Born in New York City in 1924, Stan served in the US Army Signal Corps during World War II in New Guinea and the Philippines. He performed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Columbia University, guided in his graduate work primarily by Professor Madame C.-S. Wu.

He briefly worked at the IBM Watson Laboratory before starting his work on Mössbauer spectroscopy with Fe57 in 1960 at Westinghouse Electric Corporation. He collaborated with Paul Flinn (Stanford University) and Gen Shirane (Brookhaven National Laboratory), studying a large class of magnetic compounds. His most recognized work from this period was on the acoustic modulation of the wavelength of resonant gamma radiation, detected using the Mössbauer effect. During a visit to the Weizmann Institute in 1962, he observed the 9.3 keV Mössbauer resonance in Kr83.

Stan joined Argonne National Laboratory in 1964, where he was involved in the discovery of many Mössbauer resonances, including K40. Since this isotope has no radioactive parent, Stan and R. E. Holland (Argonne) observed it by populating the 29.4 keV excited nuclear state by means of deuteron bombardment (K39(d,p)K40). Later, Stan and D. H. Vincent (University of Michigan) excited the K40 resonance through the neutron capture reaction (K39(n, +)K40).

Argonne provided an ideal setting for Stan. He could incubate his ideas with colleagues who helped them blossom into successful experiments. He actively worked with a large number of scientists from different divisions at Argonne, with backgrounds in nuclear physics, materials science, and solid state physics. This was essential for establishing new Mössbauer resonances and finding the best techniques to unravel nuclear, chemical and solid state properties. In particular, his collaboration with Michael Kalvius, Bobby Dunlap and Gopal Shenoy led to many publications dealing with resonances in Sn119, Sb121, Te125, I127,129, U238, Np237, Am243.

Stan will be best remembered for his proposal in 1974 to excite the 14.4 keV Mössbauer resonance in Fe57 using synchrotron radiation rather than a radioactive source to populate the nuclear excited state. Stan struggled for years to develop techniques for separating the nuclear resonant X-rays from the overwhelming background. In the early 1980s, Stan moved from Argonne to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory with the sole desire to succeed with his idea. Although it was the group of Erich Gerdau that first achieved this goal in 1985 at DESY, Stan and the SSRL group followed in 1987 and proceeded to make important contributions to this new field.

During the period 1990–1995 Stan and the Stanford group collaborated closely with scientists from Russia (Kurchatov Institute) and Germany (Munich Technical University) in a series of experiments at SSRL and CHESS. They observed and explained several surprising features of the coherent nuclear exciton created by a synchrotron pulse in a nuclear sample, such as the extreme speed-up of the nuclear exciton decay in scattering from a multilayer, and the nuclear exciton echo induced by vibrating a portion of an excited sample. They were also the first to use synchrotron radiation to excite the narrow 6.2 keV Mössbauer resonance in Ta181. Stan was particularly concerned with the conceptual problem of understanding “when and where” the interaction of X-ray photons with nuclei occurs during the propagation of radiation pulses through a target.

Fundamental physics was central to Stan’s life, though his interests ranged from cosmology to biology. While he allowed that quantum mechanics was useful for calculations, he found it very unsatisfactory on a philosophical level. During his later career, and especially after his retirement, he worked hard to find simple, alternative explanations for quantum phenomena. Stan was young in soul, always individualistic and passionate about his scientific ideas, which sometimes touched very exotic fields. His mind was most acute when he was talking, so he was eager to sit and talk about his latest ideas.

These discussions were always interesting, involving physics, history, astronomy, and politics. Stan’s lifelong concern with the impact of science on society was expressed in his leading role in the campaign against anti-ballistic missiles during the 1970s. Beyond his consuming interest in physical science, his many pursuits included international travel, outdoor recreation, marine life, and observing the human parade.

He was truly a family man and took an avid interest in the lives of all his colleagues. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, three children, and four grandchildren. His friends on several continents will miss him. We remember Stan for his never-fading enthusiasm to discuss physics with anyone who would listen, his friendship, and above all his curiosity for new ideas.

G. Shenoy (*)
Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, USA
e-mail: gks@aps.anl.gov

G. Smirnov
Russian Research Center “Kurchatov Institute”, Moscow, Russia

J. Arthur
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford, CA, USA

Monday, October 23, 2006

The younger Sharons

Photos from Walter in Israel.

Tal, Achikam, Dalit, Gali (left to right) in Achikam and Gali's lovely new suburban home in Kfar Yona north of Tel Aviv.

Little Netta (Achikam and Ali's daugher) with Aunt Dalit

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Moving tribute

This is an e-mail I just send to Joanne after reading her wonderful tribute to Stan on his yahrzeit, but then I thought what the hell, I'll put it up on the family history blog as well. Catching a moment in time for posterity and all of that.
Walter

Jo,

Just read your enormously moving tribute to Dad and broke into tears sitting in my hotel room in Jerusalem. You are so right that the view from their gravesite evokes Hodel's farm--thanks so much for the image. And thanks so much for your compassion and love for our parents and your ability to grieve for them in such a deep and profound way on behalf of all of us. Zeh mashehu dai chashuv, something deeply important that you are doing on a cosmic, existential level that is impacting the world far beyind what we can see and discern (as you can see Israel effects me in all osrts of unexpected ways.

You have warmest regards from the whole Sharon family. I got to visit Achikam's house and hang out with him and his lovely wife Gali and baby girl Netta. Dalit and Tal were there also. Spoke to Pnina, who is pressing Ahikam to travel with her to her birthplace in Belarus as well as Raya, who leaves this weel for a vacation with Amiram in northern Italy. Once homebound in Afeq, they have all turned into world travelers. Anyway, the one question that everyone asked of me (it was more of a demand than a question) was "WHEN IS JOANNE-EE COMING? MATAI HE TAVO? ANACHNU KOL KACH OHEVIM OTAH." So what can I say? You better get on a plane over here ASAP! Dan, the Israeli branch of the family would all love to see you as well.

OK, am on a deadline and must run. I put some of my writing on the Russian conference on rubyjewsday; now I have to write another piece on Lieberman (Avigdor, not Joe), whbich is due immieditely for Jewish Week.

Love,

Walter

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Remembering Stan's last days




Joanne writes:

Standing by his gravesite, I was flooded with my still very vivid memory of Stan's last week. It started on my 50th birthday (Monday) -- not being able to take him home as was the discharge plan, but instead to the hospital. I drove him -- my very, very sick father with a failing heart and failed kidneys sleeping next to me. I remember it feeling a bit surreal; like this could be it, he could go out on me right there rolling up 280, his all time favorite highway, past SLAC, to the exit for Stanford Hospital.

He rallied and made it: a ‘rolling admission” (hospital variety not college) – an in-and- out stay for the very sick elderly who come in from a nursing home and are discharged quickly back to the nursing facility. The dialysis was keeping him going, but not for much longer they predicted. We gathered family and friends.

I invited Peggy, of the Good Death Institute, to meet Stan. He had been so quiet and withdrawn. I just had this sense that if he could become aware of his imminent death, he might choose to use the time he had. He had struggled so desperately his last months with his want to have time, to be awake, not to be asleep when he had so much to write, read, say, share. It had been driving him crazy; how his bio-ryhthms were so out of whack. How the kidney failure affected his cognitive process. As a child with my own sleep issues, he had so stressed the joy of being awake. It just seemed right to bring him this woman who helps the dying person die a good death.

Peggy met him on Saturday afternoon 4ish. Stan had been quiet all day, closed eyes, not responded to anyone including cousins Sandy & Mel, Joe, Gene, Helga, me. Peggy held his hand, rubbed it, told him I'd invited her, and that she came to talk about his heart. He opened his eyes. Looked straight at her and said, “My heart? I can tell you a lot about my heart, but you should hear about my kidneys.” Within minutes Stan was alert, upright, and fully engaged, as we all know he can be, and then asked, 'Who are you?" In finding out she was not a doctor, or nurse, but rather a person who talks with people before they die, Stan looked genuinely puzzled, and said, “die”. “Do you think I’m going to die?”

Peggy later told me she’d never in 20 years of hospice work met a person like Stan, so unaware of dying, and found him absolutely remarkable, brilliant, funny, witty and loveable all at once. They talked about the ways of death, of rituals, of the middle ages, of the big bang and the origins of the universe. Stan, said repeatedly, “I am so enjoying this. Thank you so much, Jo, for bringing her to me. But what do I call you? I need a name for you. I know, I’ll call you the ‘warner’”. He pleaded with Peggy to come back as soon as possible.

She said she’d be there Monday after his dialysis and could stay for a few hours. It was stunning. To have Stan back, his brain woken up, his intellectual curiosity aroused. Most incredible was that Stan was bright on the phone in the morning, and when I arrived Sunday afternoon, he wanted to talk more about the Einstein article in Scientific American. He watched football with Zach and Bill and Dan. He talked to Twyla and Lani. He stayed engaged. He was present. He was looking forward to the next day: Walter was due to arrive at noon, he would go with Stan would go to dialysis, Peggy was coming after that.

Friday, October 20, 2006

October anniversaries



Gopal's letter and Dan's posting have moved me to add my thoughts. Just read pieces that I hadn’t seen before, and learned there’s yet another family member to add to the important October dates: Walter Ruby (my grandfather’s) birthday, Oct. 15. So that sits right between mine, the 11th and Helga’s, the 20th. And right in there we also have Stan’s death day, the 18th. And most years we get Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur thrown in there too (as we did this year).



Last week, on my birthday, I took my dear Carly to the cemetery. I gathered a few photos, our combined collection of seashells, and a journal. There at the Oakmont Cemetery in Lafayette, in the Jewish section, called “compassion” I do find true comfort. It does surprise me. Who would have known? It’s not just that it is so incredibly beautiful, being in the open hills and looking down on what I call “Hodel’s Farm” (reference to our backyard neighbor in Pittsburgh). It's that it all seems right; the decision of which plot/s, our carefully crafted words on the stone (“Stanley and Helga Ruby, generous spirits and forces of life, the important thing is to not stop questioning”); that you pass Green Valley Drive and Stanley Boulevards on your way; and that Carly is free to roam. So, it only seems fitting to post this photo of the site and their grave - our official unveiling on the blog.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Stan's science legacy




We received a wonderful email today from Gopal Chenoy, a long-time colleague of Stan's from Argonne days who we Ruby kids remember well from his many meals and overnight visits at our home. His message said that the physics journal Hyperfine Interactions would be publishing a tribute to Stan's work in physics written by himself, John Arthur, and Gennaddi Smirnov, two other colleagues. He attached pdfs of the author's proofs of the article, which are reproduced here.

The article puts Stan's legacy as a physicist as clearly as anything we have seen. Here are some excerpts:


His most recognized work from this period [early 1960s] was on the acoustic modulation of the wavelength of resonant gamma radiation, detected using the Mössbauer effect. During a visit to the Weizmann Institute in 1962, he observed the 9.3keV Mössbauer resonance in Kr83.

Stan wil lbe best remembered for his proposal in 1974 to excite the 14.4keV Mössbauer resonance in Fe57 using synchrotron radiationrather than a radioactive source to populate the nuclear excited state. Although it was the group of Erich Gerdau that first achieved this goal in 1985 at DESY, Stan and the SSRL group followed in 1987 and proceeded to make important contributions to this new field.

Fundamental physics was central to Stan’s life, though his interests ranged from cosmology to biology. While he allowed that quantum mechanics was useful for calculations, he found it very unsatisfactory on a philosophical level. During his later career, and especially after his retirement, he worked hard to find simple, alternative explanations for quantum phenomena.


As well as reviewing Stan's scientific accomplishments, the article gives an appreciation of him as a co-worker and man in the world. After the article appears in the journal, I'll put up a link to it or reprint the text. Gopal says he has also submitted a proposal for a longer article on Stan's science legacy that has not yet been accepted for publication.

All of this was wonderfully timely, since we're observing Stan's Jahrzeit this week. Joanne has lately visited with several of Stan and Helga's close friends. She and I will go to synagogue to say kaddish tomorrow. I'll ask Joanne if she wants to post some of her thoughts.

In the meantime, thanks so much to Gopal for this unexpected gift today.