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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
RONALD SAMUEL RIVLIN 1915–2005
Elected in 1985
“For formulating the large deformation elasticity theory and for verifying andapplying the theory extensively to general nonlinear continua in the areas ofviscoelasticities, electromagnetics, and thermodynamics.”
BY G.I. BARENBLATT AND D.D. JOSEPH
RONALD S. RIVLIN, one of the great applied mechanicians of the twentieth century, died at the age of 90 on October 4, 2005, at his home in Palo Alto, California, where he and his wife, Violet, had recently moved to be near John, his only son, daughter-in-law Susan, and grandson Michael. Ronald Rivlin will be remembered not only for his great scientific work but also for his remarkable personality, his wit, and his dedication to speaking the unvarnished truth.
Born in London on May 6, 1915, Rivlin graduated from St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, with a B.A. in physics and mathematics in 1937 and a doctorate (Sc.D.) in 1952. He began his career as a research scientist at the General Electric (GE) Company (1937–1942), where he worked on the first commercial television receiver. From 1942 to 1944, Rivlin worked at Telecommunications Research Establishment.
In 1944, he moved to the British Rubber Producers Research Association (BRPRA), where he pursued his interest in viscoelastic liquids. His decision to move to BRPRA was influenced by L. Treloar, whom he had met while still at GE, and the normal-force-driven rod-climbing experiments of Karl Weissenberg he witnessed at BRPRA.