Cook, Alan (Hugh) 1922-2004

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COOK, Alan (Hugh) 1922-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born December 2, 1922, in Felstead, England; died July 23, 2004, in Cambridge, England. Physicist, educator, and author. Cook was well known for his studies of the Earth's structure, his early determination of the constant for gravity, and his research on gases in distant galaxies. A graduate of Cambridge University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1950 and, in 1968, added a Sc.D. to his credits, he worked for the Admiralty Signal Establishment during World War II before returning to Cambridge as a geodesy and geophysical researcher. During the 1950s, he was a research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington, England, where he later served as superintendent of the Division of Quantum Metrology during the late 1960s. It was while at the NPL that Cook conducted research to determine the value of g, the gravity constant which could help geologists better evaluate the Earth's underlying structure. He also studied interstellar gases, coming to understand that the intense microwave radiation being detected from these gases was the result of maser action. As superintendent he was part of a team of scientists who studied atomic vibrations in order to create precise measuring devices that have since proven essential in such fields as radio astronomy. Cook left research behind in 1969 to teach geophysics at the University of Edinburgh for three years, after which he returned to Cambridge as Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy, serving as head of the department for several years and retiring in 1990. He remained master of Selwyn College until 1993, completing ten years of service in that position. Cook published a number of books over the years, including Physics of the Earth and Planets (1973), Celestial Masers (1977), Motion of the Moon (1988), Gravitational Experiments in the Laboratory (1993), and Observational Foundations of Physics (1994).



Independent (London, England), July 31, 2004, p. 44.

Times (London, England), August 6, 2004, p. 31.