Posin, Daniel Q. 1909-2003

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POSIN, Daniel Q. 1909-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born August 13, 1909, in Turkestan; died of cardiac and respiratory failure May 21, 2003, in New Orleans, LA. Physicist, educator, television personality, and author. Posin was a learned scientist who won six Emmy Awards for his educational television programs, was nominated six times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and wrote prolifically about science for general readers. He was brought to the United States by his family as a child, speaking no English when he arrived. But he learned quickly, was a bright student, and earned a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1935. During the 1930s and early 1940s he taught physics at UC Berkeley and the University of Panama, and then moved to Montana State University, where he also chaired the physics and mathematics department. Posin next found work in the radiation laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he met Albert Einstein and gained an appreciation for the fact that nuclear physics could be used for both peaceful and belligerent goals. His stand against nuclear weapons led to his nominations for the Nobel Prize. Returning to teaching at North Dakota State College in 1946, he began developing an on-air persona when he decided to take a second job as a television weatherman. He was fired from his teaching position in 1955 as a result of accusations of communism leveled during the McCarthy era. This seeming setback ultimately proved fortuitous for Posin, who found a new position as professor of physics at DePaul University in Chicago. At DePaul he resumed his side vocation, appearing on radio stations and on the television science shows Dr. Posin's Universe, On the Shoulders of Giants, and Out of This World. In 1967 he moved to San Francisco, where he taught at San Francisco State University until his retirement in 1996. In addition to his television work, Posin was often praised for his authorship of science books designed to explain physics, astronomy, and other complex topics to the layperson. Among his over two dozen books are I Have Been to the Village (1948), What Is Matter? (1962), Exploring and Understanding Our Solar System (1968), and The Next Billion Years (1973). Despite the success of these books, Posin is best remembered for making science entertaining and accessible through his lectures and television programs.



Chicago Sun-Times, May 28, 2003.

Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2003, section 4, p. 7.