WALTER GORDY

April 20, 1909–October 6, 1985


BY FRANK C. DE LUCIA

AND

BRENDA P. WINNEWISSER


WALTER GORDY WAS ONE of the founding fathers of microwave spectroscopy, a man of vision, scientific taste, disarming humor, and great personal warmth. In 1948 he wrote the first comprehensive review of the field for Reviews of Modern Physics, envisioning much of its future. Early in the development of the field he recognized the scientific and technical importance of expanding into the millimeter and submillimeter spectral regions and devoted a significant portion of his efforts over the next 30 years toward this end. His vision of the importance of the shorter wavelengths has come to fruition in the explosion of fields as varied and vital as interstellar radio astronomy and investigations of the most fundamental atomic and molecular interactions, as well as the current enthusiasm for the terahertz spectral region. Gordy also had the foresight to see the possibilities of applying microwave techniques to the study of biological problems and in doing so became one of the pioneers in biophysics. He opened the field of study of electron spin resonance of radiation damage in both amorphous and later crystalline organic and biological materials. In the course of developing these two fields, Gordy supervised the Ph.D. theses of 75 students, mentored



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