RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 148 A, PAUSING to look at the life of Nicolaas “Nico” Bloembergen, Physicist, Harvard, 3-11-20 to 9-5-17 (I intend to spend the next few weeks looking at our correspondence)

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Nicolaas Bloembergen on September 5, 2017, and I wanted to spend time on several posts concentrating on him. I always enjoyed corresponding with him during the last three decades.

Image result for nicolaas bloembergen


On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

Nick Gathergood, David-Birkett, Harry-Kroto

I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:

Arif Ahmed, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BatePatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky,Alan DershowitzHubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan FeuchtwangDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Hermann HauserRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodHerbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart Kauffman,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George LakoffElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlanePeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff,  Jonathan Parry,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceLisa RandallLord Martin Rees,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisNeil deGrasse Tyson,  .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John WalkerFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,

Nicolaas “Nico” Bloembergen (March 11, 1920 – September 5, 2017) was a DutchAmerican physicist and Nobel laureate, recognized for his work in developing driving principles behind nonlinear optics for laser spectroscopy.[1] During his career, he was a professor at both Harvard University and later at the University of Arizona.

In  the first video below in the 9th clip in this series are his words and will be responding to them in the next few weeks, but today I just wanted to pause and look at this life. I was privileged to be able to correspond with him since the 1990’s and he even called me on the phone. 

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)


Nicolaas Bloembergen, Who Shared Nobel for Advances With Laser Light, Dies at 97

Nicolaas Bloembergen, a Dutch-born American physicist who studied quantum mechanics by the light of an oil lamp while hiding from the Nazis in the Netherlands in World War II and later shared a Nobel Prize for his contributions to laser spectroscopy, died on Sept. 5 in Tucson, Ariz. He was 97.
His death, at an assisted living facility, was caused by cardiorespiratory failure, his son, Brink, said.
Dr. Bloembergen, who spent more than 40 years at Harvard University, was considered the father of nonlinear optics, which investigates how electromagnetic radiation interacts with matter.
In the 1960s, physicists knew that ordinary light sources, like headlights or lamps, were affected by the material with which they interacted. But the newly created lasers were so powerful that they could transform the very properties of what they passed through, creating newfound phenomena and optical effects.
“He was the first to realize and show that materials behave differently when you have very intense beams of light falling on them,” said Jim C. Wyant, a professor emeritus at the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, who met Dr. Bloembergen in 1969.
An analogy would be the striking of a tuning fork: When it is struck gently, you hear a pure tone; but when it is struck hard, you hear the harmonics. Similarly, when matter is struck with an intense enough laser beam, you get a light harmonic, which is a nonlinear optical effect.
Dr. Bloembergen shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Arthur Schawlow, a physicist from Stanford University, and Kai M. Siegbahn, of Sweden.
His major contribution to the development of the laser was the creation of a three-level pumping system, which made it much easier to pump atoms from their ground state to a  energy state, allowing the device to operate continuously.
The pumping scheme was originally designed for the laser’s predecessor, the maser, which amplified microwaves instead of light. It offered a much more practical and easier way of making lasers.
“He was one of the major intellectual forces in the explosion of  and applications related to the laser,” said John Armstrong, a retired IBM research director who worked as a postdoctoral  in Dr. Bloembergen’s lab in the 1960s. “There are a thousand applications of lasers, not only in surgery but in all forms of manufacturing and all forms of diagnostics for material properties.”
Before his major advancements in nonlinear optics and laser development, Dr. Bloembergen found early success as a pioneer in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a method of detecting the faint magnetism of the atomic nucleus, which is used to study molecular structures and measure magnetic fields.
His doctoral thesis, “Nuclear Magnetic Relaxation,” explored what controlled the shape of spectral lines, which can occur when atoms in their excited state emit radiation. It was used to produce a paper published in 1948 with his Harvard colleagues Edward M. Purcell and Robert V. Pound that became one of the most cited works of physics and was turned into a widely read book in the field.
“That was a giant contribution to spectroscopy that covers every field of science,” said Eli Yablonovitch, a physicist at Berkeley who completed his doctorate under Dr. Bloembergen. “The Nobel committee could have mentioned any of these three things, or could have mentioned others, and it would have been equally noteworthy.”
Nicolaas Bloembergen, who was often called Nico, was born on March 11, 1920, in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, the son of Auke Bloembergen, an executive at a fertilizer company, and Sophia Maria Quint Bloembergen. He was the second of six children.
Growing up he yearned for academic challenges. At age 12 he attended a prestigious municipal gymnasium in Utrecht, where he learned chemistry, mathematics and Latin. But it was physics that he found most challenging, and most worthy of pursuit.
He graduated from the municipal gymnasium as valedictorian in 1938, giving his speech in white tie and tails. Little did he know that he would wear the exact same suit to accept, at 61, a Nobel Prize in Stockholm many years later.
He entered the University of Utrecht to study physics. There, he took an experimental physics course with Leonard S. Ornstein, who allowed him to assist a graduate student with his Ph.D. research project. That led to Dr. Bloembergen’s first publication of a scientific paper in 1940.
That same year Adolf Hitler launched a massive airborne invasion westward. Without warning, German troops parachuted into Holland and took control of the nation.
The next year, Dr. Ornstein, a Jew, was removed from the university at the same time that Jewish students were expelled. (Dr. Ornstein died six months later from what Dr. Bloembergen had said was stress and malnutrition.)
Though Dr. Bloembergen was not Jewish, he was still a  target for deportation or even death; the Nazis were deeply suspicious that any student could be part of the Dutch resistance.
Despite studying under German occupation, he received the Dutch-equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in 1941 and the equivalent of a master’s degree in 1943, mere weeks before the Nazis closed the University of Utrecht. After graduating, Dr. Bloembergen spent the next two years hiding from the Nazis, including during the “hunger winter” of 1944, when food was scarce and many died of malnutrition.
“I remember eating bitter tulip bulbs to fill my stomach. They were hard and indigestible despite of hours of boiling,” he wrote in his book, “Encounters in Magnetic Resonances: Selected Papers of Nicolaas Bloembergen.” “I read through the book ‘Quantum Theorie des Elektrons und der Strahlung,’ by H. A. Kramers, by the light of a storm lantern.”
The Allied forces liberated Holland in 1945, and Dr. Bloembergen later left the shambles of Europe for the United States. He enrolled in Harvard and worked under Dr. Purcell on nuclear magnetic resonance. Dr. Purcell would win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1952 for his work with NMR.
Dr. Bloembergen would go on to say that it was his good fortune to have arrived at the lab six weeks after Dr. Purcell and his colleges detected NMR in condensed matter. He had come upon a field that was ripe for discovery.
Dr. Bloembergen returned to the Netherlands to earn his doctoral degree at the University of Leiden, in 1948, and defend his thesis.
While there he met Huberta Deliana Brink, whom he called Deli. During the war she had been in a Japanese concentration camp in Indonesia, where she was born. Dr. Bloembergen returned to Harvard in 1949 and she followed shortly after. They married in Amsterdam on June 26, 1950, beginning a 67-year marriage. Both became citizens in 1958. She survives him.
In addition to his wife and his son, he is survived by two daughters, Antonia Bloembergen and Juliana Dalton, and two grandchildren.
Dr. Bloembergen became a professor at Harvard in 1951 and stayed there until his retirement in 1990. He received the National Medal of Science from President Gerald R. Ford in 1974. After retiring from Harvard, he moved to Tucson and became a professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, College of Optical Sciences, in 1991, though he would not accept a salary.
In 2010, for his 90th birthday, his friends, family and scientists he had mentored — the “Nicolettes,” as one colleague called them — gathered at the university for an optical sciences symposium followed by a tennis tournament.
“He was so well loved by colleagues and  former students and postdocs,” Dr. Wyant said.


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