Richardson, Robert Coleman

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Richardson, Robert Coleman

Robert Coleman Richardson, 1937–2013, American physicist, b. Washington, D.C. Ph.D. Duke Univ., 1966. Richardson was a professor at Cornell from 1968 until his death; he was the university's first provost for research (1998–2003). He was co-recipient with Douglas Osheroff and David Lee of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery that a rare isotope of helium with only one neutron, known as helium-3, exhibits superfluidity at extremely low temperatures. Conducted in the early 1970s at Cornell, the research showed that helium-3 becomes superfluid at a temperature much lower than the normal helium isotope, helium-4, and that the key to the transition is the magnetic behavior of helium-3 rather than its hydrodynamics. The work was considered a breakthrough in low-temperature physics. Richardson also was an advocate of improved science education in American schools.

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