ROBERT N HALL [1919 - 2016] : Robert N Hall's legacy can be found at almost every check out counter - that little red blinking laser scanner that -

Reads bar codes on milk cartons, boxes of light bulbs, price tags dangling from a new jacket and just about everything else that can be bought in a store.

A product of his inventive labor can be found in most kitchen nowadays : The Microwave Oven.

Dr. Hall left his fingerprints far and wide. He built the first  solid-state laser in 1962. Nearly 20 years earlier, during World War II, he designed a magnetron to jam enemy radar that, thanks to a melting bar, was adapted to create the microwave oven.

Another of his inventions makes it possible to control the high-voltage DC current that runs things like electric locomotives.

His gamma ray detector is used in  nuclear research. And his laser not only promotes faster checkouts, channel surfing, and pointers; it also enables fiber optics to carry data.

Dr. Hall began working at the G.E. Lab  after graduating from the Californian Institute of Technology in 1942.

With World War Ii in progress, he soon designed a type of magnetron that could jam enemy radar.

Shortly afterward, an engineer Raytheon standing near of the devices noticed that it had melted a candy bar in his pocket.

Raytheon engineer used the discovery to develop the microwave oven.

After the war, Dr. Hall returned to Caltech for a doctorate. With the encourage of his advisers, who  were excited by the  atomic age, he began studying nuclear physics. He received his Ph.D. in 1948.

Dr. Hall said he became interested in science as an 11-year-old when an uncle. Sydney Hall, an early aircraft-engine  designer, took him to a science fair.

In a 2012 interview for this obituary, he talked about the pleasure he took in life of science. ''You see there is a problem to be solved,'' he said, ''and you think about it, and you solve it, and it's a thrill.''


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