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Albert Baez

Albert Baez

Overview
Albert Vinicio Baez, Ph.D. (November 15, 1912, – March 20, 2007) was a prominent Mexican-American physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

, and the father of singers Joan Baez
Joan Baez
Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

 and Mimi Fariña
Mimi Fariña
Mimi Baez Fariña was a singer-songwriter and activist, the youngest of three daughters to a Scottish mother and Mexican-American physicist Albert Baez .- Early years:Fariña's father, a physicist affiliated with Stanford University and MIT, moved his family...

. He was born in Puebla
Puebla, Puebla
The city and municipality of Puebla is the capital of the state of Puebla, and one of the five most important colonial cities in Mexico. Being a planned city, it is located to the east of Mexico City and west of Mexico's main port, Veracruz, on the main route between the two.The city was founded...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, and his family moved to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 when he was two years old because his father was a Methodist minister. Baez grew up in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 and considered becoming a minister before turning to mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 and physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

.

Baez earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Drew University
Drew University
Drew University is a private university located in Madison, New Jersey.Originally established as the Drew Theological Seminary in 1867, the university later expanded to include an undergraduate liberal arts college in 1928 and commenced a program of graduate studies in 1955...

 in 1933 and then a master's degree in physics from Syracuse University
Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university located in Syracuse, New York, United States. Its roots can be traced back to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1832, which also later founded Genesee College...

 in 1935.
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Encyclopedia
Albert Vinicio Baez, Ph.D. (November 15, 1912, – March 20, 2007) was a prominent Mexican-American physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

, and the father of singers Joan Baez
Joan Baez
Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

 and Mimi Fariña
Mimi Fariña
Mimi Baez Fariña was a singer-songwriter and activist, the youngest of three daughters to a Scottish mother and Mexican-American physicist Albert Baez .- Early years:Fariña's father, a physicist affiliated with Stanford University and MIT, moved his family...

. He was born in Puebla
Puebla, Puebla
The city and municipality of Puebla is the capital of the state of Puebla, and one of the five most important colonial cities in Mexico. Being a planned city, it is located to the east of Mexico City and west of Mexico's main port, Veracruz, on the main route between the two.The city was founded...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, and his family moved to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 when he was two years old because his father was a Methodist minister. Baez grew up in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 and considered becoming a minister before turning to mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 and physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

.

Early life


Baez earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Drew University
Drew University
Drew University is a private university located in Madison, New Jersey.Originally established as the Drew Theological Seminary in 1867, the university later expanded to include an undergraduate liberal arts college in 1928 and commenced a program of graduate studies in 1955...

 in 1933 and then a master's degree in physics from Syracuse University
Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university located in Syracuse, New York, United States. Its roots can be traced back to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1832, which also later founded Genesee College...

 in 1935. In 1936, he married Joan Chandos Bridge, the daughter of an Episcopalian minister. The couple became Quakers and had three daughters, Pauline, Joan and Mimi. Together they moved to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, where he pursued a doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 in physics. In 1948, along with Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 professor Paul Kirkpatrick (1894–1992), Baez developed the X-ray reflection microscope
X-ray microscope
An X-ray microscope uses electromagnetic radiation in the soft X-ray band to produce images of very small objects.Unlike visible light, X-rays do not reflect or refract easily, and they are invisible to the human eye. Therefore the basic process of an X-ray microscope is to expose film or use a...

 for examination of living cells. This microscope
Microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

 is still used today in medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

. Baez received his PhD in physics from Stanford in 1950. After graduating, he developed zone plates—concentric circles of alternating opaque and transparent materials to use diffraction instead of refraction to focus X-rays. Unfortunately, much of his work had to await the development of synchrotron
Synchrotron
A synchrotron is a particular type of cyclic particle accelerator in which the magnetic field and the electric field are carefully synchronised with the travelling particle beam. The proton synchrotron was originally conceived by Sir Marcus Oliphant...

 X-rays sources several decades later.

Academic life


As the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 arose in the 1950s, Baez's talents were in high demand for the developing arms race
Arms race
The term arms race, in its original usage, describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation...

. However, influenced by his family's pacifist
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

 beliefs, he refused lucrative war industry jobs, preferring instead to devote his career to education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 and humanitarianism
Humanitarianism
In its most general form, humanitarianism is an ethic of kindness, benevolence and sympathy extended universally and impartially to all human beings. Humanitarianism has been an evolving concept historically but universality is a common element in its evolution...

. From 1950 to 1956, he held a professorship at the University of Redlands
University of Redlands
The University of Redlands is a private liberal arts and sciences university located in Redlands, California. The university's campus sits on near downtown Redlands. The university was founded in 1907 and was associated with the American Baptist Church. The land for the university was donated by...

, where he continued his X-ray research. Baez took a yearlong leave to work with UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 in 1951, stationing his family in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 to establish the physics department and laboratory at Baghdad University. In 1959, Baez accepted a faculty position at MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

, and moved his family to the Boston area. In 1960, working with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is a research institute of the Smithsonian Institution headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where it is joined with the Harvard College Observatory to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics .-History:The SAO was founded in 1890 by...

 in Cambridge, MA, he developed optics for an X-ray telescope. Later that year he moved to the faculty of Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd College is a private residential liberal arts college of science, engineering, and mathematics, located in Claremont, California. It is one of the institutions of the contiguous Claremont Colleges, which share adjoining campus grounds....

, and moved his family to Claremont, California
Claremont, California
Claremont is a small affluent college town in eastern Los Angeles County, California, United States, about east of downtown Los Angeles at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. The population as of the 2010 census is 34,926. Claremont is known for its seven higher-education institutions, its...

. From 1961 to 1967, he directed science teaching for UNESCO in Paris.

Baez was the author of the textbook The New College Physics: A Spiral Approach (1967). He was also the co-author of the textbook The Environment and Science and Technology Education (1987) and the memoir A Year in Baghdad (1988). Baez was not limited to print media, though, making almost 100 films about physics for the Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

 Educational Corp from 1967 to 1974. Baez also chaired the Commission on Education of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources from 1979 to 1983.

In June 1974 Baez was awarded an honorary degree
Honorary degree
An honorary degree or a degree honoris causa is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations...

 by the British Open University
Open University
The Open University is a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom...

 as Doctor of the University.

Retirement


After his retirement, Baez occasionally delivered physics lectures and was president of Vivamos Mejor/USA, an organization founded in 1988 to help impoverished villages in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. Its projects include preschool education
Preschool education
Preschool education is the provision of learning to children before the commencement of statutory and obligatory education, usually between the ages of zero and three or five, depending on the jurisdiction....

, environmental
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

 projects, and community and educational activities. In 1991, the International Society for Optical Engineering awarded him and Kirkpatrick the Dennis Gabor Award for pioneering contributions to the development of X-ray imaging microscopes and X-ray imaging telescopes. In 1995, the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC) established the Albert V. Baez Award for Technical Excellence and Service to Humanity. Baez himself was inducted into the HENAAC Hall of Fame in 1998.

Baez was the father of folk singers Joan Baez
Joan Baez
Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

 and Mimi Fariña
Mimi Fariña
Mimi Baez Fariña was a singer-songwriter and activist, the youngest of three daughters to a Scottish mother and Mexican-American physicist Albert Baez .- Early years:Fariña's father, a physicist affiliated with Stanford University and MIT, moved his family...

, and Pauline Bryan; he also was the uncle of mathematical physicist John Baez. He had three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. He died of natural causes March 20, 2007 at age 94 in the Redwood City care home where he had lived for the prior three years. Baez had been divorced from his wife, Joan Bridge Baez, for several years, at the time of his death. (According to the singer Joan Baez, speaking at the 2009 Newport Folk Festival, her parents married each other a second time before his death. His obituary in the New York Times states that "his survivors include his wife, Joan Bridge Baez of Woodside, Calif." )

Sources