Talk:Ralph Asher Alpher

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Conflict notice[edit]

I am not (merely) name-dropping when I state that I knew Dr. Alpher. I do this to alert other editors to my potential conflict of interest. Around 1990, he reviewed and rejected two of my scientific papers, responding to me with personal letters. I do not feel, what ever else one thinks of him, that he deserved the anti-Semetic comments on this talk page (see the history of this page if you wish). So I have erased them as vandalism. I updated the article to reflect his death at the age of 86, and made other copy edits. Bearian 19:56, 14 August 2007 (UTC);

Ralph A. Alpher encountered other MIT graduates who knew of Jewish students during this time period. My father always told me that the alumnus replied "Oh" to my father's statement that he was Jewish. As R. Alpher proceeded to help support his family during the Depression (for example, he was the major breadwinner while the Stage Manager at Theodore Roosevelt High School in D.C.), it seems more likely that the possibility of working while attending G.W.U. at night was a more attractive to this early (1936) high school graduate. He completed a course in Gregg shorthand in 1937 and likely used these skills as well as his mathematical genius in a series of jobs at the National Bureau of Standards and the Carnegie Institution. He was working on geomagnetic data under Dr. Scott Forbush in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism when in August, 1940, he was reclassified as a Junior Physicist under contracts to the Navy under the National Defense Research Committee. His work under such contracts consumed much of his "daytime" work for the next 25 years. (Added by Dr. Victor S. Alpher, 8 August 2011). I requested information about scholarship offers from M.I.T. after my father's passing and was informed that no such records were maintained.
The comment did not appear to be antisemitic to me. The article says that his scholarship was withdrawn possibly because he was Jewish. The comment on the talk page quoted this and then asked whether or not MIT was really that antisemitic at the time. Deleting it seems like the wrong move to me, since it is probably an honest question. 13:08, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
The comment also doesn't seem anti-semitic to me. Limits on the number of Jews accepted at universities were common at the time, as it was in my time, 20 years later. I supplied a reference to the NY Times obituary of 18 Aug 07,hedged a bit by noting that Alpher believed that this was the reason. Bellagio99 14:03, 25 August 2007 (UTC);
The comment appears dubious to me as I was well-acquainted with my father's views on the subject. He did tell me on several occasions that he as told at G.W.U. that Chemistry would be an exceedingly difficult field for those of Jewish heritage, however. (added by Dr. Victor S. Alpher, 8 August 2011).

National Medal of Science[edit]

I deleted the following paragraph explaining in some detail what the [National Medal of Science] is. Instead, I cross-linked to the NMS WP article.

The President's National Medal of Science Laureates are chosen by a committee within the National Science Foundation. John F. Kennedy presented the first Medals. Since that time, fewer than 500 such Laureates have been selected across all fields of science for outstanding contributions to science generally and to the leadership of the United States in all fields. Some refer to these awards as "lifelong career contribution" awards, unlike the Nobel and other prizes, which are typically made for specific contributions. Bellagio99 14:03, 25 August 2007 (UTC);

I (Victor S. Alpher, Ph.D., Ralph Alpher's son) attended the NMS awards ceremony which occurred during the period that my father was hospitalized after breaking his hip. The citation on his NMS award clearly details that the award was based upon his theoretical work in demonstrating that the majority of the chemical elements (Hy and He) were created in the fist seconds after the big bang, and his demonstration that the so-called "Big Bang" would leave behind remnants of its occurrence, notable the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. This radiation was discovered serendipitously in 1964 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson at Bell Labs in Holmdell, New Jersey. (Added by Dr. Victor S. Alpher, 8 August 2011)

Cause of Death[edit]

I supplied a bit more detail on cause of death, once again from the NY Times obit. Bellagio99 14:03, 25 August 2007 (UTC); the cause of death was pneumonia.

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as stub, and the rating on other projects was brought up to Stub class. BetacommandBot 10:02, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Alpha Beta Gamma?[edit]

While the article claims that the paper's authorship of Alpher, Bethe and Gamow is a pun on the first three Greek letters Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, it's more likely a parody of the first three Hebrew letters Aleph, Beth and Gimel. This makes sense since George Gamow (who invented the pun) was Jewish, as were Ralph Alpher and Hans Bethe. There's no reference. Does anybody have one? —MiguelMunoz (talk) 03:58, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

George Gamow was not Jewish, effectively destroying your thesis.--PloniAlmoni (talk) 11:48, 6 May 2009 (UTC);

George Gemow was not Jewish, and Ralph Alpher consistently told the story, over a period of decades, of Gamow's intention to create a memorable (and humorous series of authors corresponding the first three letters of the Greek alphabet. Due to the notoriety of Nobel Laureate Hans Bethe, as well as that of Gamow, some authors suggested that Ralph Alpher was fictive (a la Nicolas Bourbaki, the pseudonym of a cabal of French mathematicians in the mid-20th century (Scientific American, May 1957)). Ethnicity had no relevance to this errant joke of Gamow, who insisted on adding the name of Hans Bethe "in absentia." The "in absentia" was deleted from the final printing of the letter, which was the first article based upon Ralph A. Alpher's doctoral dissertation in 1948 (added by Dr. Victor S. Alpher, 9 August 2011).