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James H. Bartlett (1904–2000)

Published onDec 01, 2001
James H. Bartlett (1904–2000)

Dr. James H. Bartlett, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa died on 4 September 2000 at the age of 95. Dr. Bartlett received a BCE at Northwestern in 1924 and his PhD in Physics in 1930 from Harvard.

Dr. Bartlett served on the faculty at the University of Illinois from 1930 until 1965, when he left to join the faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa as a Professor of Physics. He retired from this position in 1975. During his lengthy career, Dr. Bartlett did research at many prestigious institutions around the world including the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton; Cornell Medical School; Stanford University; Astronomiske Observatorium, Copenhagen; the Academy of Sciences, USSR; the National Radio Astronomy Observatory; and the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

In his major fields of interest (classical dynamics, surface films and nuclear physics) Dr. Bartlett made many contributions to science during his long career. In one notable example, Dr. Bartlett pointed out in 1932 (Phy. Rev. 41:370) what was probably the first recognition that atomic nuclei display particularly stable configurations of atomic charge, or number, or both as one of a set of so-called magic numbers e.g. 2, 8, 20, 50, 82, 126. This discovery was central to the later development of the nuclear shell model in 1948 by Mayer and also by Jensen.

Later in the 1960s Dr. Bartlett became interested in the restricted problem of three bodies, performing early computer searches for stable orbits. He also became interested in the study of orbital stability using Henon area preserving mapping. Such work on the restricted problem of three bodies and HEPM demonstrated the existence of chaos in certain areas of classical dynamics and served as an impetus to the study of chaos as a topic in itself.

Dr. Bartlett was one of the driving forces in starting the astronomy program in the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The astronomy faculty in the department has since grown to six. Dr. Bartlett remained interested in research and active in our department long after his retirement.

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