February 25, 2013

Former Professor, Nobel Laureate Remembered as ‘Vibrant’ Man

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Remembered by colleagues for both his academic accomplishments and vibrant personality, Prof. Robert Richardson, physics –– a Nobel laureate who was named Cornell’s first vice provost for research in 1998 –– died from complications from a heart attack on Feb. 19 in a nursing home in Ithaca, according to a University press release. He was 75.

In 1996, Richardson received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery in 1971 that the helium-3 isotope can reach a state of superfluidity — a state in which the isotope can flow without resistance — at approximately 0.002 degrees above absolute zero, according to the press release.

Richardson made this discovery jointly with then-Cornell colleagues Prof. David Lee, physics, who is now a professor at Texas A&M University, and Prof. Douglas Osheroff, physics, Ph.D. ’73 at Stanford University, who was then a graduate student at Cornell, according to the press release.

Osheroff called their discovery “accidental,” made at a time when many people in the field of low-temperature physics were looking for the temperature of the superfluid state of helium-3, according to the press release.

Original Author: Margaret Yoder