Rubby Sherr, professor emeritus of physics, passed away July 8, 2013.
As an undergraduate engineering physics major at Princeton, I had the privilege of taking three courses from Dr. Sherr during the period 1954-1956. Two were junior-level courses on analytical mechanics and a modern physics course the first semester of my senior year. One thing I distinctly remember about my senior-level course was that Dr. Sherr arranged for those taking his class, instead doing a typical laboratory experiment, to go to the cyclotron facility at Princeton to obtain “real” nuclear physics data. This was quite exciting to all of us taking his course. In addition he even promised that he would use all the data we acquired for his research!
I first learned about Dr. Sherr’s death through our local paper, the Albuquerque Journal, July 22, 2013. A similar but somewhat longer article appeared on a Philly.com website (a Philadelphia newspaper I assume). The reason for this national coverage of course is that Dr.Sherr had a significant role in developing the atomic bomb. As you know, many outstanding physicists helped in this project, which had the positive result of helping shorten World War II. But I don’t think Dr. Sherr or any of his colleagues would have been at all pleased that this invention would open the door to possible nuclear war. This is verified by Dr. Sherr’s statement at the time of the 1945 test “Then the horror sank in that the thing had actually worked…”
As your long article about him states, he was an extremely hard working and industrious physicist. I agree with that. He was a “scientist to reckon with”. I am saddened by his departure; I’m sure many others in the Princeton community feel the same way. A difficult question I will ask (which applies to anyone of us) “Did he know Jesus Christ as his Savior?” I certainly hope so. If he did, then I will see him again – forever.