Friday, October 10, 2014

John H Hubbell

In the references at the end of Chapter 15 (Interaction of Photons and Charged Particles with Matter) in the 4th edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology, you will find a string of publications authored by John H. Hubbell (1925–2007), covering a 27-year period from 1969 until 1996. Data from his publications are plotted in Fig. 15.2 (Total cross section for the interactions of photons with carbon vs. photon energy), Fig. 15.3 (Cross sections for the photoelectric effect and incoherent and coherent scattering from lead), Fig. 15.8 (The coherent and incoherent differential cross sections as a function of angle for 100-keV photons scattering from carbon, calcium, and lead), Fig. 15.14 (Fluorescence yields from K-, L-, and M-shell vacancies as a function of atomic number Z), and Fig. 15.16 (Coherent and incoherent attenuation coefficients and the mass energy absorption coefficient for water).

Hubbell’s 1982 paper “Photon Mass Attenuation and Energy-Absorption Coefficients from 1 keV to 20 MeV” (International Journal of Applied Radiation and Isotopes, Volume 33, Pages 1269–1290) has been cited 976 times according to the Web of Science. It has been cited so many times that it was selected as a citation classic, and Hubbell was invited to write a one-page reminiscence about the paper. It began modestly
Some papers become highly cited due to the creativity, genius, and vision of the authors, presenting seminal work stimulating and opening up new and multiplicative lines of research. Another, more pedestrian class of papers is “house-by-the-side-of-the-road” works, highly cited simply because these papers provide tools required by a substantial number of researchers in a single discipline or perhaps in several diverse disciplines, as is here the case.
At the time of his death, the International Radiation Physics Society Bulletin published the following obituary
The International Radiation Physics Society (IRPS) lost one of its major founding members, and the field of radiation physics one of its advocates and contributors of greatest impact, with the death this spring of John Hubbell.

John was born in Michigan in 1925, served in Europe in World War II [he received a bronze star], and graduated from the University of Michigan with a BSE (physics) in 1949 and MS (physics) in 1950. He then joined the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), later NIST, where he worked during his entire career. He married Jean Norford in 1955, and they had three children. He became best known and cited for National Standards Reference Data Series Report 29 (l969), “Photon Cross Sections, Attenuation Coefficients, and Energy Absorption Coefficients from 10 keV to 100 GeV.” He was one of the two leading founding members of the International Radiation Physics Society in 1985, and he served as its President 1994–97. While he retired from NIST in 1988, he remained active there and in the affairs of IRPS, until the stroke that led to his death this year.
Learn more about John Hubbell here and here.

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