Honoring the Life of Vera Rubin

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Remembrance - Those Who Have Passed On

Honoring the Life of Vera Rubin


Brad R. Conrad, PhD, Director, Society of Physics Students & Sigma Pi Sigma

After speaking at an undergraduate research session in 2010, Dr. Rubin enjoys a meal and good fellowship with the SPS students in attendance. Photos courtesy of the American Institute of Physics.

The Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma Honor Society extend their deepest condolences to the family of Vera Rubin on her passing on Sunday, December 25, 2016. Vera was a lifelong friend to undergraduate physics and astronomy students and to SPS. She is best known for her discovery of evidence for dark matter through an inconsistency between how galaxies appear to rotate when observed from Earth and what Newton’s law of gravity would predict. Her work has led to the modern theories of dark matter and modified Newtonian dynamics.

Among her numerous awards, Vera Rubin was inducted as an honorary Sigma Pi Sigma member in 2010 “for her masterful documentation of the stellar rotation curves of galaxies, with their profound implications for the sources of gravity in galaxies or gravity itself, her mentorship of women and men in science, her dedicated study of the history of women astronomers, and her generous spirit of support to undergraduate physicists and astronomers everywhere.”

Rubin was not only a role model for many students and researchers alike, she was an advocate for women in science and sought any opportunity she could to share that passion with the next generation of scientists. In her own words to the National Academy of Sciences: “Fame is fleeting. My numbers mean more to me than my name. If astronomers are still using my data years from now, that’s my greatest compliment.” Her drive, wisdom, and love of discovery will be missed. //

On February 16, 2010, Sigma Pi Sigma recognized Dr. Rubin with its highest distinction. Honorary Membership.

Oral History with Vera Rubin at AIP: https://www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/3...

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