Vera Ru­bin, who did pi­o­neer­ing work on dark mat­ter, dies

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Vera Ru­bin, a pi­o­neer­ing as­tronomer who helped find pow­er­ful ev­i­dence of dark mat­ter, has died, her son said Mon­day. She was 88. Al­lan Ru­bin, a pro­fes­sor of geo­sciences at Prince­ton Univer­sity, said his mother died Sun­day night of nat­u­ral causes. He said the Philadel­phia na­tive had been liv­ing in the Prince­ton area. Vera Ru­bin found that gal­ax­ies don’t quite ro­tate the way they were pre­dicted, and that lent sup­port to the the­ory that some other force was at work, namely dark mat­ter. Dark mat­ter, which hasn’t been di­rectly ob­served, makes up 27 per­cent of uni­verse - as op­posed to 5 per­cent of the uni­verse being nor­mal mat­ter.

Sci­en­tists better un­der­stand what dark mat­ter isn’t rather than what it is. Ru­bin’s sci­en­tific achieve­ments earned her nu­mer­ous awards and hon­ors, in­clud­ing a Na­tional Medal of Science pre­sented by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in 1993 “for her pi­o­neer­ing re­search pro­grams in ob­ser­va­tional cos­mol­ogy.” She also be­came the sec­ond fe­male as­tronomer to be elected to the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences. “It goes with­out say­ing that, as a woman sci­en­tist, Vera Ru­bin had to over­come a num­ber of bar­ri­ers along the way,” Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy physi­cist Sean Car­roll tweeted Mon­day.

Ru­bin’s in­ter­est in as­tron­omy be­gan as a young girl and grew with the in­volve­ment of her fa­ther, Philip Cooper, an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer who helped her build a te­le­scope and took her to meet­ings of am­a­teur astronomers. Al­though Ru­bin said her par­ents were ex­tremely sup­port­ive of her ca­reer choice, she said in a 1995 in­ter­view with the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Physics that her fa­ther had sug­gested she be­come a math­e­ma­ti­cian, con­cerned that it would be dif­fi­cult for her to make a liv­ing as an as­tronomer. She was the only as­tron­omy ma­jor to grad­u­ate from Vas­sar Col­lege in 1948.

When she sought to en­roll as a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Prince­ton, she learned women were not al­lowed in the univer­sity’s grad­u­ate as­tron­omy pro­gram, so she in­stead earned her mas­ter’s de­gree from Cor­nell Univer­sity. Ru­bin earned her doc­tor­ate from Ge­orge­town Univer­sity, where she later worked as a fac­ulty mem­ber for sev­eral years be­fore work­ing at the Carnegie In­sti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton, a non­profit sci­en­tific re­search cen­ter. Dur­ing her ca­reer, Ru­bin ex­am­ined more than 200 gal­ax­ies.”Vera Ru­bin was a na­tional trea­sure as an ac­com­plished as­tronomer and a won­der­ful role model for young sci­en­tists,” said Matthew Scott, pres­i­dent of the Carnegie In­sti­tu­tion. “We are very sad­dened by this loss.”—AP

WASH­ING­TON: In this im­age pro­vided by the Carnegie In­sti­tu­tion of Wash­ing­ton, Vera Ru­bin uses a mea­sur­ing en­gine. —AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.