• Physics Professor Emeritus John King runs electric current through a pickle, a demonstration he and Institute Professor Emeritus Philip Morrison used in their classes, at a memorial celebration for Morrison at Kresge Auditorium on Saturday, Sept. 10.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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Colleagues remember Morrison

Colleagues and friends honored the memory of Philip Morrison, Institute professor emeritus, theoretical astrophysicist and science educator, by celebrating his well-known capacity for wonder in a service in the MIT Chapel on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Morrison died on April 22 in Cambridge. He was 89.

A member of the Manhattan Project who became a vocal critic of the nuclear arms race, Morrison was an author, with his late wife, Phylis, of numerous books on science for young readers.

Claude Canizares, associate provost and professor of physics, chose "Nothing Is Too Wonderful to Be True," one of Morrison's books, to set the tone for the gathering.

"Phil and Phylis were electrifying in the way they shared that wonder with literally millions of people, but especially with those of us who had the extreme good fortune of being able to know, work, play, laugh with and love them," Canizares said.

"We are, of course, proud of Phil's contributions to research and teaching. But we are especially proud of his success in explaining physics to the public," said Marc Kastner, head of the Department of Physics and Donner Professor of Science.

Kosta Tsipis, research affiliate in mechanical engineering, said "He remained to the end an inspirational moral reference point … publicly and eloquently active in the cause of peace."

Other contributors to the service included Owen Gingerich, senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; Karen Worth, senior scientist in the Center for Science Education at the Education Development Center Inc.; and Bert Singer, Morrison's stepson.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 14, 2005 (download PDF).

Topics: Faculty, Obituaries


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