AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XL , No. 1, Spring 2008
Robert Rubin
Photo courtesy of Robert Rubin's family.

Honors for Vera Rubin and Robert Rubin

In honor of Robert J. Rubin, Vera Rubin has donated the $7,500 cash portion of her 2008 Richtmyer Memorial Award to the AIP Center for History of Physics. Vera Rubin is a Senior Fellow of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. Her husband Robert Rubin, a mathematician and physicist who worked for 30 years at the old National Bureau of Standards and 10 more years at the National Institutes of Health, died on January 18, 2008, shortly after this award and gift were announced.

Through this gift, Vera recognizes and honors Robert’s distinguished career and his interest in the history of physics—including service on the Committee of the Friends of the Center for History of Physics. He was known for his mathematical work describing complex physical systems and their evolution over time, crossing the boundaries of traditional disciplines of physics, chemistry and math. "Bob was one of the heroes of those of us of his generation working in statistical mechanics. He was a scientist’s scientist and a great gentleman," noted Benjamin Widom, Cornell University. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a past president of the Philosophical Society of Washington.

The Richtmyer Memorial Award was established in 1941 by the American Association of Physics Teachers, and recognizes outstanding contributions to physics and effectively communicating those contributions to physics educators. Vera Rubin was awarded the Richtmyer Memorial Award in 2008 because of her work as an observational astronomer whose studies of the motions of visible matter in galaxies provided observational evidence of the existence of dark matter. As noted by Ken Heller, Chairman, AAPT Awards Committee, "Two of her early research results, the distribution of galaxies in the universe and the motion of stars in galaxies, opened the door to arguably the most important topics of current physics research, the nature of dark matter and the evolution of the universe."

Other Award and Prize winners who have generously donated the cash portion of their awards to the Center for History of Physics:

Recipient Name of Prize or Award
Vera C. Rubin 2008 Richtmyer Memorial Award
Charles B. Duke 2006 American Physical Society Pake Prize
Mildred S. Dresselhaus 2005 Heinz Award, Technology, the Economy and Employment
Allan R. Sandage 2000 Peter Gruber Foundation Prize for Cosmology
Robert L. Gluckstern 1998 U.S. Particle Accelerator School Prize for Research

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