Henry Margenau, the Eugene Higgins Professor Emeritus of Physics and Natural Philosophy who served as a consultant to the Atomic Bomb Commission, died on Feb. 8 at Arden House in Hamden, Connecticut. He was 96 years old.
A member of the Yale faculty for 41 years, Professor Margenau was an expert in microwave theory and the hydrogen bomb and an authority on the philosophical foundations of physics. He made important contributions in intermolecular forces, spectroscopy, nuclear physics and electronics. He was the author or co-author of nine books, including "Ethics and Science," "The Nature of Physical Reality," "Quantum Mechanics" and "Integrative Principles of Modern Thought." He also served as editor of numerous professional journals and was a consulting editor of the Time-Life Science Series of books.
During World War II, Professor Margenau did important work in microwave theory, particularly duplexing systems -- the devices that make it possible to both transmit and receive signals with a common radar antenna. His theory of spectral-line broadening was used in analyzing the fireball of the first hydrogen bomb. He also was a member of the Commission of the World Council of Churches, which was charged with formulating a Christian attitude toward problems of an atomic war, and he served on the Radiation Weapons Committee of the Armed Forces.
Professor Margenau also served as a consultant to the Air Force, the National Bureau of Standards, Argonne National Laboratory, Rand Corp. of California, General Electric Co. and Lockheed. He was a staff member of the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey; and the Radiation Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He held both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fulbright Grant during his long and distinguished career.
Born in Bielefeld, Germany, Professor Margenau received his bachelor's degree from Midland College in Nebraska, and a Master of Science degree from the University of Nebraska in 1926. He joined the Yale faculty as a physics instructor in 1928 and received his Ph.D. degree from Yale in 1929. He was appointed as the first incumbent of the Eugene Higgins chair in 1950. He was awarded the William Clyde DeVane Medal by the Yale chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1970 for outstanding teaching and scholarship. He retired from the faculty in 1969.
He remained active in retirement, giving numerous lectures throughout the country as well as writing and conducting research. He received many honorary degrees, and a book in his honor, titled "Vistas in Physical Reality," was published in 1975. Nearly a decade after retiring, he wrote, "As the echoes of one's own contributions become weaker, those of one's students grow stronger, giving us pride in their accomplishments." In 1978, "Henry Margenau, Selected Essays" was published by D. Reidel Co.
Professor Margenau is survived by his wife, Liesel Noe; sons Rolf C. of Rumson, New Jersey, and Henry M. of Jim Thorpe, Penn.; a daughter, Annemarie Lindskog of Woodbridge, Connecticut; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.