ROBERT M. WALKER

February 6, 1929–February 12, 2004

BY P. BUFORD PRICE AND ERNST ZINNER


ROBERT WALKER DIED ON February 12, 2004, in Brussels, Belgium, after an extended battle with stomach cancer. He was a visionary with two great dreams, both of which paid off handsomely. He conjectured that meteorites and lunar rocks contain a record of the ancient radiation history of the solar system in the form of fossil tracks of radiation damage. With his colleagues at General Electric Research Laboratory, he made that dream come true. He conjectured that grains that originated in stars could be found in meteorites and analyzed individually to provide new insights into basic astrophysical processes. With his colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis, he made that dream come true, too. As he liked to put it, “In high school, I promised my sweetheart the sun, the moon, and the stars. We now have samples of the moon, we have samples of stars, and we have samples of the sun.”

Bob was born on February 6, 1929, in Philadelphia. His father left him and his mother when Bob was only four. While working in New York City, his mother met and married Roger Potter, a construction worker, whom Bob regarded for the rest of his life as his real father. During the Great Depression, when there were few jobs, the three of them moved to a farm near Cobleskill, New York, where his



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