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by Randy Cassingham
Randy Cassingham’s Honorary Unsubscribe Recognizes the Unknown, the Forgotten and the Obscure People who Had an Impact on Our Lives
An atomic physicist, Ramsey studied matter and energy at an atomic level. He learned he could precisely control the flow of atoms through a magnetic field. He called it “the separated oscillatory fields method”. Everyone else in the field calls it the “Ramsey Method”. So what? So this: the Method is what enables MRIs — Magnetic Resonance Imaging medical scanners — to work. In addition, the Ramsey Method made it possible to build the most accurate timepiece ever created: “atomic” clocks, which are so accurate that current versions are not expected to gain or lose even one second over 138 million years. “I didn’t even know there was a problem about clocks initially,” Ramsey said in 1995. But atomic clocks aren’t just a curiosity: they enable technologies such as the Global Positioning System to be accurate. And he spent 39 years teaching physics at Harvard, passing on his knowledge. “If you made a list of the most outstanding physicists of the 20th century, he’d be among the leaders,” said Leon M. Lederman, emeritus director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory — which Ramsey co-founded. Dr. Ramsey was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1989 for his Method. He died in Massachusetts on November 4. He was 96.
From This is True for 6 November 2011
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The early write-ups from This is True's popular Honorary Unsubscribe feature are now available for your Kindle (or Kindle software for your smartphone, tablet, or computer) as low-cost ebooks. See details on Volume 1 (covering 1998 through 2000), Volume 2 (covering 2001 through 2003), and Volume 3 (covering 2004 through 2006). The honorees truly are the people you wish you had known.
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