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Colleagues honor scientific luminary for codiscovery of NMR

Robert V. Pound, B.A. '41 became a Harvard professor and made groundbreaking discoveries in the areas of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), radar and Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Now Emeritus Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University, Pound gave the opening address last March at the Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference in Boston, marking the 50th anniversary of NMR. He was also honored as the codiscoverer of NMR, which has since evolved as a technique to detect tumors and make detailed images of the brain and other organs.

Pound, who received an honorary doctorate in science from UB in 1994, began professional scientific work during World War II as a member of the radiation laboratory at MIT. His work there included developing more sensitive radar techniques to detect enemy aircraft and ships.

In December 1945, he participated, with his radiation laboratory colleagues E. M. Purcell and H. C. Torrey, in the first successful detection of NMR in condensed matter.

In 1959, he discovered a way to test conclusively a crucial premise of Einstein's general theory of relativity. "Heretofore," The New York Times reported, "it has always defied measurement, even against the giant yardstick of astronomical space."

Pound's many honors include the 1990 National Medal of Science and membership in the National Academy of Science.

He maintains an office at Harvard and continues with an active research career.

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