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Biographical Memoirs, Volume 86
NORMAN CARL RASMUSSEN
November 12, 1927–July 18, 2003
BY KENT F. HANSEN
NORMAN CARL RASMUSSEN died on July 18, 2003, at the age of 75. He succumbed to complications of Parkinson’s disease from which he suffered for many years. Norm was a remarkable scientist, engineer, and educator who made additions to nuclear physics, nuclear engineering, health physics, and risk analysis. In each of these fields he was a creative researcher who made important, lasting contributions. He first achieved recognition for his work in gamma ray spectroscopy and the quantitative determination of the nuclear composition of materials. Subsequently he worked on the analysis of radiation doses in survivors of the U.S. nuclear weapons testing programs of the 1950s and 1960s. His most influential work was in directing the Atomic Energy Commission study on nuclear safety, published as WASH 1400 but better known as the Rasmussen Report. This pioneering effort has evolved into the principle tool of risk assessment in the nuclear industry. His public service included the National Science Board, numerous National Academy of Sciences panels, and the Defense Science Board. However, to those of us privileged to know him well, our sense of loss is dominated by the loss of a wonderful colleague and friend who possessed a rich collection of delightful human characteristics.