PHILIP F. LOW

October 15, 1921– January 14, 1997:

BY W. R. GARDNER AND C. B. ROTH

PHILIP LOW'S UNCOMPROMISING honesty, keen intellect, and ability to lead by example resulted in an influence on science and higher education that ranked him among the top scientists in the country. Whatever endeavor he undertook he addressed with a singleness of purpose that never faltered short of achieving his goal. He devoted his career to advancing our understanding of the physics and chemistry of the absorption of water by the soil 's clay mineral fraction, which dominates almost all the physical and chemical properties of soils even though it is less than two microns in size. During much of his career his thinking ran counter to the general scientific consensus, however he invariably fielded his scientific arguments with dignity and fairness.

Philip Low was a pioneer in applying thermodynamics to clay-water systems and in elucidating the nature of phosphate fixation, potassium fixation, aluminum release by exchangeable hydrogen, and osmosis and ion diffusion in these systems. Despite almost universal skepticism, Low challenged the concept that double-layer theory described clay swelling and proceeded to prove that this phenomenon is due to long-range interaction between particle surfaces and the water. Also, he developed general equations that relate both



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