February 8, 1892-September 18, 1947

Courtesy, Columbia University, Bulter Library


ON SEPMTEMBER 18, 1947, Selig Hecht, professor of biophysics at Columbia University, died suddenly at the age of fifty-five. He was one of the most vivid scientific figures of his time, a pioneer in the development of general physiology in this country and, for more than two decades, the undisputed leader in his chosen field—the physiology of vision.

In Hecht, great scientific capacities combined with equally superb gifts as a teacher, writer, and lecturer. His interests ranged widely, and everywhere they touched, he made striking personal contributions. No less than his works, the world will miss his vigorous personality, his breadth of outlook, and his generosity of spirit.

Hecht instilled something of his own clarity, substance, and force into his special field. He drew together its scattered phenomena, ordered them, and gave them a secure foundation in physics and chemistry. In many areas of vision his laboratory contributed the most complete and accurate data we possess. He provided in addition a context of ideas and rigorous theory upon which workers in vision will rely for many years to come.


An earlier version of this article first appeared in The Journal of General Physiology 32(1948): 1-16, portions of which are reproduced here by copyright permission of the Rockefeller University Press.

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