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March 28, 2012


Paul Callaghan
Paul Callaghan
1947 - 2012
 
Anatole Abragam
Anatole Abragam
1914 - 2011
 
Robert Blinc
Robert Blinc
1933 - 2011
 
Rudolf Mossbauer
Rudolf Mössbauer
1929 - 2011
 
Robert Pound
Robert Pound
1919 - 2010

Heritage of the great ones

Restarting blog activity after a period of silence with an obituary is not pleasant. But for those left, life continues and these reminders of our mortality should be turned to good purpose by prompting each of us to finish our own open 'business' while we are still able to do so (those of my age will know what I mean). I have put the obituary also on LinkedIn (in the NMR Group) and many people expressed their feelings there. Thanks.

It reminds me that last year I have not reacted to the departure (June 8, 2011) of Anatole Abragam, a Russian emigree to Paris and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. I did not know him personally but, like all the physics-minded folks, I have used heavily his amazing book The Principles of Nuclear Magnetism (3rd Edition, Clarendon 1983) which was for decades nicknamed the NMR and ESR bible. Amazing because when it was first published in 1961, it was so up-to-date and so competent and insightfully crafted that it remained pertinent and fresh for decades, notwithstanding the rapid advances of the field. For how much I have used the book, Anatol certainly merited a word of recognition from me, so I am doing it belatedly now.

Likewise, I should have honored in some way the departure (September 26, 2011) of Robert Blinc, head of the Condensed Matter Physics Department at the Jozef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, a member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, ex-president of the AMPERE Groupement, and above all one of the most enthusiastic and talented pioneers of NMR and EPR in the ex East Block, always ready to establish and maintain world-wide cooperation, despite the Iron Curtain and other political adversities.

Which makes effectively three obituaries, so allow me to complete a quadruplet by mentioning the recent departure (September 14, 2011) of Rudolf Mössbauer, the inventor (in 1957) of the X-ray nuclear spectroscopy technique that bears his name. You might say that Mössbauer spectroscopy and NMR have little in common, so why do I mention it. Well, for one thing, Robert Pound, one of the discoverers of NMR, has used in 1959-1960 the just-discovered Mössbauer effect to verify general relativity in an earthly laboratory (see more). Plus, and this fits the present context, Anatole Abragam wrote also an early "bible" about Mössbauer spectroscopy (L'effet Mossbauer et ses applications). There is actually a subtle but deep link between magnetic resonance and Mössbauer spectroscopy. Both techniques use electromagnetic waves, though at opposite sides of the electromagnetic spectrum (radio waves versus X-rays). And both reach record values of what we might call the "spectroscopic quality factor", namely the ratio f/Δ between a spectral line's centroid frequency f, and its half-height linewidth. It reaches the highest known values of up to 10^15 in Mössbauer spectroscopy, followed by up to 10^11 in NMR. This makes the two techniques absolutely exceptional and popping up together in many conceptual dicussions in physics.

Below is a [hopefully complete] list of books by Paul Callaghan and Anatole Abragam. If you consult it, some of the entries might surprise you.
 

  • Callaghan Paul T.,
    Translational Dynamics and Magnetic Resonance:
    Principles of Pulsed Gradient Spin Echo NMR
    ,
    Oxford University Press 2011. ISBN 978-0199556984. more >>
  • Callaghan Paul T.,
    Wool to Weta: Transforming New Zealand's Culture and Economy,
    Auckland University Press 2009. ISBN 978-1869404383. more >>
  • Callaghan Paul T.,
    Principles of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Microscopy,
    Oxford University Press 1994. ISBN 978-0198539971. more >>
    1st Edition 1991.
     
  • Abragam Anatole,
    Time Reversal: An Autobiography,
    Oxford University Press 1989. ISBN 978-0198539261. more >>
    French: De la physique avant toute chose,
    Odile Jacob, Paris 1987. ISBN 978-2738100160. more >>
  • Abragam Anatole, Freeman Ray (translator),
    Reflections of a Physicist,
    Oxford University Press 1986. ISBN 978-0198519645. more >>
    French: Réflexions d'un physicien,
    Herman, Paris 1983. ISBN 978-2705659608. more >>
  • Abragam Anatole,
    The Principles of Nuclear Magnetism,
    3rd Edition, Clarendon Press 1983. ISBN 978-0198520146. more >>
    1st Edition 1961.
  • Abragam Anatole, Goldman Maurice,
    Nuclear Magnetism: Order and Disorder,
    Oxford University Press 1982. ISBN 978-0198512943. more >>
  • Abragam A., Bleaney B.,
    Electron Paramagnetic Resonance of Transition Ions,
    Dover 1986. ISBN 978-0486651064. more >>
    1st Edition Clarendon Press 1970.
  • Abragam Anatole,
    L'effet Mössbauer et ses applications,
    Gordon and Breach 1964. more >>
  • See also:
    Goldman M., Porneuf M.,
    NMR and More: in Honor of Anatole Abragam,
    EDP Sciences 1994. ISBN 978-2868832191. more >>


COMMENTS:

Andrew Coy of Magritek pointed out that last August Paul Callaghan delivered a nice Banquet Speech in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on the occasion the 11th International Conference on Magnetic Resonance Microscopy. The text and the video of the Talk are available on the ICMRM website. Paul concludes in Maori, wishing everyone "Kia kaha, ake, ake, ake", meaning "May you have strength forever"!

March 25, 2012


Keep spinning, Paul

Sir Paul T.Callaghan left us

I just got word through ISMAR, of which he used to be a President and an enthusiastic promoter, that Sir Paul Callaghan, the New Zealander with a mighty World impact, has died prematurely on March 24. This certainly leaves a huge gap in the NMR community.

I noticed Paul's name initially when writing an Italian undergraduate text on MRI physics back in 1983; I went through about 1000 MRI papers (today those would be all classified as early) and his were always coming up on top - definitely the ones to read many times over, both because of the clarity of exposition and because of forward-looking insights. Only later I had the opportunity to get to know him personally and appreciate his eclectic knowledge of NMR, his almost boyish enthusiasm, his amazing educational capabilities, and - to sum it up - his profound impact on many areas of Magnetic Resonance and beyond.

Among MR applications, name imaging and microscopy, name porous media, name rheology, name nD techniques combining spectroscopy, relaxation and diffusion in any possible way, name polarization enhancement techniques, or - indeed - name anything in NMR you might think about, including even things like in-situ relaxometry of Antarctic ice, and his name will magically come up. Some of his innovative nD techniques combining time- and frequency-domain data are still in the budding stage and will take some more time and effort to reach maturity and the honors of routine usage. It will be up to all of us to clear and pave the trails he had charted.

Working from the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology of Victoria University in Wellington, he certainly contributed to the world standing of New Zealand and was honored for that by being named The New Zealander of 2011. For his specific NMR contributions, he received the 2010 ENC Günther Laukien Prize.

He was Sired, too, but I think that he unwittingly created his own lasting monument by his now famous ten NMR videos. To me, no amount of titles could describe him better than his arms mimicking Larmor precession, and I am now really glad I wrote an entry about the videos on my blog, introducing the term "Callaghan Interaction" to describe the phenomenon. We have exchanged several e-mails about the videos and he promised to make four more, but that can't be done now.

Pity he spinned away so early.

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