James Ring ’51, P’84

Hamilton College Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen announced the death of Winslow Professor of Physics Emeritus James W. Ring ’51, P’84 in an email to the Hamilton community on April 29.

(Update: A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Chapel.) 

I write with the sad news that Winslow Professor of Physics Emeritus James W. Ring ’51, P’84, a devoted member of the faculty for more than four decades, died on Saturday.

Jim received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Hamilton in 1951, graduating as an elected member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1958 from the University of Rochester, where he became a member of Sigma Xi. Jim joined the Hamilton faculty as an assistant professor in 1957, earned tenure, received promotion to associate professor in 1962, and became a full professor in 1969. He retired in 2003.

A nuclear physicist, Jim’s research interests included scattering of pions from hydrogen and investigating H-bonded liquids by dielectric constant, viscosity measurements, and by neutron scattering. An early campaigner for the environment, energy and climate change, Jim studied topics in environmental physics such as the dangers of radon, nuclear fallout, fracking, solar energy, and global warming.

He was recognized by Gerald Ford for his work on passive solar design (as manifest by the solar classroom on campus). He contributed to the science of civil defense and disaster planning. Jim also worked with Hamilton colleagues, including analyzing experiments for evidence of the validity of Phil Pearle's continuous spontaneous localization theory and dating Gene Domack’s sediment core samples from Antartica. His work was published in numerous scholarly journals, including The Physics of Simple LiquidsNature; Physical ReviewJournal of Chemical PhysicsHealth Physicsthe American Journal of Archeology; and Environment International.   

During his 46-year tenure in the Physics Department at Hamilton, Jim also served as a visiting scientist at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, U.K., the Physical Chemistry Laboratory at Oxford University, the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies at Princeton, and the Laboratory of Heating and Air Conditioning at the University of Denmark. Jim derived great satisfaction from involving students in his research and recently established an endowment at Hamilton to support student research in the sciences.

Jim was a member of an extended Hamilton family that included his son Andrew ’84, brothers Connie ’53 and Gordon ’63, and nephew John ’87. He and his wife, Betty, were married 59 years.

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