"Gerhart Friedlander, Nuclear Chemist, Dies at 93"
September 12th, 2009
New York Times
September 12th, 2009
New York Times
Gerhart Friedlander, a veteran of the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb and a pioneer of nuclear chemistry who later exploited the first particle accelerators to do major research as head of the chemistry department at Brookhaven National Laboratory, died Sunday in South Setauket, N.Y. He was 93.
The cause was coronary heart disease, said his wife, Barbara Strongin.
Dr. Friedlander’s groundbreaking research on how high-energy particles cause nuclear reactions, done in collaboration with colleagues in the United States and abroad, led to computer-generated calculations of nuclear reaction mechanisms that form the basis for theoretical models still used today.
With Joseph W. Kennedy he wrote the classic textbook “Nuclear and Radiochemistry.” Originally published in 1949 with the title “Introduction to Radiochemistry” and appearing in several editions and multiple languages, it became one of the standard introductions to both fields.
Gerhart Friedländer was born on July 28, 1916, in Munich. He fled Nazi Germany in 1936 and emigrated to the United States, where he changed the spelling of his surname.
As a Jew, he had not been allowed to attend a university under the Nazi regime, and instead he became a laboratory technician. Once in America, with the help of a scholarship provided by a Jewish refugee organization, Dr. Friedlander received a bachelor of science degree and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.
While a student at Berkeley, Dr. Friedlander met his first wife, Gertrude Maas, who died in a car accident. Besides Ms. Strongin, his wife of 28 years, Dr. Friedlander is survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Ruth Huart of Écoust-St.-Mein, France, and Joan Hurley of Agoura, Calif.; four stepchildren, Rabbi William Strongin, Stacey Strongin Blaney, Ronni Mordechai-Strongin and David Strongin; four grandchildren; six stepgrandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
At Brookhaven National Laboratory, Dr. Friedlander was an advocate for and contributor to the solar-neutrino experiment, better known as the Gallex experiment, conducted in the Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory in Italy. This project sought to explain the difference between the amount of neutrinos predicted to be released by the sun and the smaller number actually detected on earth; the Nobel Prize was awarded for work done by Raymond Davis Jr. of Brookhaven. When European financing came through for the Gallex experiment, “Dr. Friedlander came out of retirement to pull together a group in B.N.L. that collaborated with the Europeans,” said Alex Harris, current chairman of the chemistry department at Brookhaven.
In the 1990s, Dr. Friedlander was the first editor in chief of Science Spectra, a general interest science magazine published for nearly a decade.
Dr. Friedlander worked at Brookhaven for 33 years, retiring in 1981. He remained active in research at Brookhaven and visited regularly into his 90s.
“He had a tremendous influence on shaping Brookhaven’s scientific efforts in the chemical sciences as a researcher and manager,” Dr. Harris said. “And he was very influential in education.”
When he was named senior chemist emeritus at a ceremony in 2007 at the age of 91, Dr. Friedlander said, “My time at Brookhaven was during the golden age of science, when B.N.L. researchers could pursue their scientific interests relatively unfettered by red tape.”