Friday, July 01, 2016

Elegy for Joan L. Bromberg

I was perusing the American Institute of Physics History Newsletter, and came across an elegy for Joan Bromberg (1929-2015). Joan was a rarity: a well-known scholar of the History of Physics who lived on temporary appointments (including at UC Davis), a civil rights activist (her bus got pelted with rocks at a 1949 Paul Robeson concert), an enthusiastic supporter of Latin American science, and a lover of ballet.

I remember Joan as a faithful student in Pamela Kay Lourentzos' Sunday morning ballet class in the 1990's.

Joan's father was well-known too. Dr. Walter Bromberg (1900-2000) was Jack Ruby's psychiatrist. I remember he delivered a very-interesting lecture in the 1990's about shoot-from-the-hip Jack Ruby at Sacramento's Unitarian Church.

Joan is best known for a 1967 article "Maxwell’s Displacement Current and His Theory of Light," and the books "Fusion: Science, Politics, and the Invention of a New Energy Source" (1982), "The Laser in America, 1950 - 1970," (1991), "NASA and the Space Industry" (1999), and "Teoria quântica: Estudos históricos e implica.ões culturais" (2011), which received the 2011 Jabuti Prize, the most distinguished literary prize in Brazil in the field of science.

I'm sure if she had to encourage people to support her legacy, it would be to send collections of scientific journals to Cuba, to help repair the damage from the U.S. embargo. She talked about it often.

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