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Memorable Manitobans: Alastair Graham Walter Cameron (1925-2005)

Physicist.

Born at Winnipeg on 21 June 1925, son of Alexander Thomas Cameron and Airdrie Edna Bell (1901-1985), he attained a BSc degree in mathematics and physics at the University of Manitoba and MA and PhD (1952) degrees from the University of Saskatchewan. He worked at the Chalk River Laboratory for Atomic Energy Canada, where he used some of the first computers in Canada. Due to the Canadian government’s lack of funding for science, he emigrated to the United States in 1959. To meet governmental security requirements, he became an American citizen in 1963 but often returned to visit family members in Canada. His area of expertise was in nuclear astrophysics, particularly in studying the formation of our solar system and discovering an explanation of our moon’s origin. He held academic positions at the California Institute of Technology, Goddard Institute for Space Studies and, from 1973-1999, was Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University. From 1976 to 1982, he was chairman of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to numerous academic awards, he was awarded the Hans Bethe Award (2006) for “his pioneering work in developing the fundamental concepts of nuclear astrophysics. These basic ideas, laid out almost 50 years ago, are still the basis of current research in this field.“ At the time of his death, he was a senior research scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. He died at Tucson, Arizona on 3 October 2005.

Sources:

“Alastair Cameron, Astrophysicist, 1925-2005,” Globe & Mail, 5 November 2005.

Alastair G. W. (Graham Walter) Cameron, Wikipedia.

Alastair G. W. Cameron (1925-2005) astrophysicist and planetary scientist,” Nature, 438, 752 (2005).

Alastair G. W. Cameron, noted astrophysicist and space scientist,” SpaceRef, 21 October 2005.

This page was prepared by Ian Stewart.

Page revised: 13 March 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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