National Academies Press: OpenBook

Biographical Memoirs: Volume 62 (1993)

Chapter: FAMILY

Suggested Citation:"FAMILY." National Academy of Sciences. 1993. Biographical Memoirs: Volume 62. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2201.
Page 328

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RICHARD BROOKE ROBERTS 328 the course of war. He earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. Dick's career was marked by an independence of mind and a very practical style. He was a professional physicist and biologist with few equals and a severe and irreverent critic of the illogical and imperfect. Nevertheless, his attitude was close to that of amateur in the best sense. He had a love of what he did and a noncompetitive desire to help everyone else achieve "good" science. Perhaps the greatest of his contributions were the ideas and cooperation he gave to others. FAMILY Dick Roberts was fortunate in his forebears, many of whom must have had some of the same definite, practical, and inventive cast of character. In the early days of oil in Pennsylvania, his grandfather's brother, Colonel Edward A. L. Roberts, invented and patented shooting explosives in an oil well to improve the flow. He and his brother formed the Roberts Torpedo Company, and the time was ripe since the wells were beginning to clog. The family fortune was helped by the $200-a-well charge and by many successful suits against infringers. When they heard of nitroglycerin, they immediately started manufacturing it in 100-barrel lots in old barns for well shooting. Dick wrote a document1 (AB) which has been useful for this memoir, and I quote from the first paragraph. I have just given 9 volumes of the Academy Biographical Memoirs to the library. The sight of these volumes always provokes the horrible thought that someday someone will have to prepare one of them for me. The thought of being dead is not horrible at all. I have had a very fine serving of life and would not feel cheated if I went tomorrow. However, writing such a piece is not easy and I have often wondered how I could handle such an assignment for somebody—.... And so it seems almost mandatory

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Biographic Memoirs: Volume 62 contains the biographies of deceased members of the National Academy of Sciences and bibliographies of their published works. Each biographical essay was written by a member of the Academy familiar with the professional career of the deceased. For historical and bibliographical purposes, these volumes are worth returning to time and again.

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