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Date: March 4, 1997

Princeton Physicist Robert Dicke Dies

PRINCETON, N.J.--Robert H. Dicke, Princeton University physicist, died today of complications from Parkinson's disease at his home in Princeton. Dicke, 80, was the Albert Einstein Professor of Science, emeritus, at Princeton University.

Dicke is widely known for his leadership in developing experimental tests of gravity physics and of the standard gravitational model for the large-scale evolution of our universe. He was responsible for the famous 1965 paper which proposed that radiation detected near one centimeter wavelength is left over from the hot Big Bang start of expansion of the Universe. Dicke invented the instrument used to detect this radiation (the Dicke radiometer, now a standard astronomical tool) that has been key for transforming cosmology from a theoretical to a more experimental science. The Microwave Theory and Techniques Society awarded him its Pioneer Award in 1991 "for the invention of the microwave radiometer."

In 1970 Dicke received the U.S. Medal of Science, the nation's highest award for achievement in science. In 1973 he received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in recognition of "his outstanding contributions to the success of the Apollo Moon Landing Program." Also in 1973 the National Academy of Sciences bestowed on him its Comstock Prize, given once every five years for "the most important discovery or investigation in electricity, magnetism or radiant energy." Awarded the 1974 Elliot Cresson Medal by the Franklin Institute, he received the American Astronomical Society's 1992 Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize for his "outstanding role in the introduction of diverse and pioneering methods of measurement applied in the fields of microwave radiation, radio astronomy, gravity physics, lunar science and cosmology."

Dicke, who obtained numerous patents, has been credited with important contributions to the development of radar and to laser technology.

Born May 6, 1916, in St. Louis, Dicke received his A.B. degree from Princeton in 1939 and his Ph.D. two years later from the University of Rochester.

He joined the staff of MIT's Radiation Laboratory in 1941 and came to Princeton as an assistant professor in 1946 and was promoted to associate professor the following year. Dicke, who advanced to professor in 1955, chaired the Princeton Physics Department from 1967 to 1970. He held the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professorship of Physics from 1957 until he was named the first Albert Einstein University Professor of Science in 1975. He transferred to emeritus in 1984.

Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967, Dicke was also a member of the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Edinburgh, the University of Rochester and Ohio Northern University.

He is survived by his wife, Annie Currie; three children, Nancy J. Rapaport of Amherst, Mass., John R. of Wrightsville, Pa. and James H. of Ewing, N.J.; five grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be scheduled later in the Princeton University Chapel. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Robert H. Dicke Fund, Princeton University Physics Department, PO Box 708, Princeton, NJ 08544.