Robert Pound

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Robert Vivian Pound (May 16, 1919 – April 12, 2010)[1] was an American[2] physicist who helped discover nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and who devised the famous Pound–Rebka experiment supporting general relativity.[3] He became a tenured professor of physics at Harvard without ever having received a graduate degree.

Pound was born in Ridgeway, Ontario.[4]

In 1946 Pound and collaborators Edward Purcell and Henry Torrey adapted the Rad Lab techniques—widely used to this day in radar and communications—to detect nuclear magnetic resonance in condensed matter. Soon NMR became a standard analytical tool in chemistry, biology, and physics, and the “Pound box” marginal oscillator became the standard NMR detector.[5]

The discovery of NMR won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1952,[6] though, due to the limitation on the number of recipients and the simultaneous achievements of Felix Bloch's group, only two recipients were designated. In his address to recipient Ed Purcell, Professor Hulthén nevertheless celebrated the "very interesting experiment you performed together with Dr. Pound",[7] making Pound one of the only two collaborators explicitly named in the speech. Pound received the National Medal of Science in 1990 for his lifetime contributions to the field of physics. Pound was the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics emeritus at Harvard University.[4] He was a member of the class of 1941 at the University at Buffalo.[4]

Pound's name is also attached to the Pound–Drever–Hall technique used to lock the frequency of a laser on a stable optical cavity.


  1. ^ Hoffman, Jascha (April 19, 2010). "Robert Pound, Physicist Whose Work Advanced Medicine, Is Dead at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Pound, Robert Vivian". Wolfram. 
  3. ^ Maugh II, Thomas M. (6 May 2010). "Harvard physicist Robert Pound dies at 90". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ a b c Bryan Marquard (April 25, 2010). "Robert Pound, 90; Harvard physicist confirmed key theory of Einstein". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ Horowitz, Paul (2010). "Robert Vivian Pound". Physics Today. 63 (9): 65. 
  6. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1952". Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Award Ceremony Speech". Retrieved 23 December 2015. 

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