Friday, May 23, 2014

RIP Richard L. Liboff (1931–2014)

Steve Strogatz just e-mailed me to let me know that Richard Liboff, my PhD supervisor, has died. The obituary only came out yesterday, but Richard died on 9 March. The comment, which is recalled in the Cornell obituary, that Richard made about his book in the Spiderman movie was quintessentially him. (I remember that incident when Cornell first had a press release about it.)

Richard seemed pretty crazy at times (though, to be honest, I bet that my students would say the same thing about me!), and we ultimately had a falling out (and I couldn't get him to respond to e-mails after fall 2003 or early 2004), but I do have a soft spot for him --- and I have some of my own stories to tell, of course. Richard was quite a character, and Cornell's obituary conveys it very well. In some ways, this is like the closing of a final bit of my graduate-school chapter, although I still have strong contacts with many of the Cornell faculty.

Here is a link to Richard's wikipedia page. He is best known for his quantum mechanics book, of course. (Given how well-known his book is, I'm rather surprised that his obituary hasn't circulated much more widely. It certainly deserves to be. Through his textbooks, Richard made extremely important expository contributions to generations of young physicists and other scientists.)

I published my first science paper jointly with Richard. It is nowhere near my best paper, but it will always be my first one.

Update (5/25/14): I noticed that this blog entry was getting several hits, so I tried to figure out the mechanism via Google (no luck yet). In the process, though, I found something really interesting that I never knew: Richard self-published a novel! (Given the details of the Amazon page, I am assuming that it was self-published.)

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