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1931 Dr. Beiser 2023

Dr. Arthur Beiser

February 16, 1931 — October 25, 2023

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dr. Arthur Beiser, 92, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a physicist, prolific author, and passionate sailor, passed away from Covid on October 25, 2023.

Dr. Beiser was born in The Bronx, New York, on February 16, 1931, to Dr. Max Beiser and Gertrude (Rudin) Beiser and attended the Bronx High School of Science.

Dr. Beiser earned BS and PhD degrees in physics at New York University and then joined their faculty. He was a Senior Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, where he took part in expeditions to Alaska and the Pacific for the observation of cosmic rays and magnetic phenomena. Dr. Beiser met his wife-to-be, fellow physicist Germaine Bousquet, while at NYU. He is a Fellow of the Explorers Club and chaired the first Explorers Club's Committee on Space Exploration.

Finding available textbooks lacking, Dr. Beiser began writing his own and eventually left his position as associate professor of physics at NYU to write full-time. He authored more than 35 books, many with multiple editions, and 14 of which have been translated into a total of 27 languages. His books include the Time-Life book The Earth, Physics, Modern Technical Physics, and Concepts of Modern Physics. Dr. Beiser's early conviction that a "…text in science must have its roots in the present, not the past, and must view science as a quest for truth, not utility" never wavered. The underlying theme of his books is accessibility to the "power and beauty" of physics, with books intended for audiences ranging from young students with little mathematical background to upper-level physics majors. His texts integrated illustrations and biographies and always included contemporary topics; he regarded physics as the master science but reminded the reader that physics could be fun. Dr. Beiser demonstrably respected students and hoped to ignite in them his passion for physics. Dr. Beiser continued working into his 90s, most recently on the 18th edition of The Physical Universe, first published in 1960 and 63 years later still widely used throughout the United States and worldwide.

Dr. Beiser was an avid sailor, sailing with his wife as often as possible in New York and the New England Seaboard until 1963, when they crossed the Atlantic in their ketch Minots Light. Their three daughters joined them in Scotland, and the summer in Europe extended to a 55-year stay. Dr. Beiser wrote in the fall and winter and sailed with his family in the late spring and summer. He and Germaine sailed extensively throughout Europe and the United Kingdom, made a second transatlantic crossing to spend a year in the Caribbean Sea, and continued cruising the Baltic, Mediterranean, and Adriatic Seas into their late 80s. Since rounding Cape Horn with friends, Dr. Beiser proudly wore the traditional gold hoop earring to prove it. Dr. Beiser was a prolific contributor to sailing magazines and authored two books on sailing, The Proper Yacht and The Sailor's World. He passionately loved sailing and planned every cruising voyage meticulously, learning navigation, plumbing, and electrical systems. A member of the Royal Cruising Club, Dr. Beiser co-authored a sailing anthology for cruising yachtsmen, Roving Commissions, 20th Century Edition. Dr. Beiser was never as happy as when he was "messing about in boats". His last sailboat, Ardent Spirit, could well have been his namesake.

Dr. Beiser is survived by his wife Germaine (neé Bousquet) Beiser; their children Nadia Beiser and her son George (Catherine); Alexandra Beiser (Kenneth) and her sons Dylan (Allie), Benjamin, Max, and Lincoln; and Isabel Berg (Ron) and her children Eric and Valerie (Anthony).

We will all miss him enormously.

Services will be private.



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