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|The Physics Department and Rutgers University grieve the sudden loss of Martin Schaden on July 14, 2016.|
Eulogy for Dr. Martin Schaden
November 9, 2016
Dr. Martin Schaden joined the Physics Department at Rutgers-Newark in 2004. Martin was undoubtedly a first-rate theoretical physicist, but what struck me most is the breadth of his knowledge of physics and his interest in experimental physics. Here I see a similarity between Martin and T. D. Lee, a Nobel Laureate at Columbia University. When I was a graduate student at Columbia, the Physics Department had a coffee hour at 4 pm every day. T. D. Lee was always surrounded by experimental high energy physicists. I was told that it was not uncommon that their experimental problems were solved in this informal coffee hour conversation with T. D. Lee either by a question or a suggestion by him. Even though the physics department at Rutgers-Newark is too small to have a coffee hour, Martin would often pop into my lab and ask how the experiment was going. When he was in the lab, he was like a child, very excited and very curious about everything. He was always interested in the experiment, and like T. D. Lee, he sometimes had interesting ideas for solving problems in the experiment. He would always preface his comments or suggestions by saying "Maybe I'm stupid but how about this?" This characteristic modesty of Martin forms a striking contrast to his extraordinary intelligence.
I see another similarity between Martin and T. D. Lee. The speed of their thinking processes is truly astonishing. I remember when I was at Princeton University I attended a seminar given by T. D. Lee. David Gross, a future Nobel Laureate, was in the audience. He was trying to ask a question, but before he finished his question, T. D. Lee already gave him the answer, drawing laughter from the audience. This happened with Martin frequently. He would have the answer before people finished asking their question.
Since Martin's office was just a few doors down the hallway from my office, we would often be heard discussing physics problems, sometime probably a little too loud. My neighbor would often either close his door with a bang to show his displeasure, or if that didn't work, would come to my office to ask us to lower our voices. I remember the last physics problem I discussed with Martin was whether the Van der Waals or Casimir force between a Rb atom and the cell wall can flip the spin of the Rb atom.
Martin was a very cultured person, a quintessential Viennese gentleman. I was impressed not only by the breadth of his knowledge of physics, but also by the breadth of his knowledge of other subjects. For example he was very well-versed in history. I remember once we had a good laugh when we realized that we were thinking of the same story - the story of the sword of Damocles. Martin's love of classical music served as another bond between us. Martin was a person of great integrity. He could not tolerate any fraud or dishonesty.
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have had Martin as my colleague for the last 12 years. We had a very fruitful collaboration. Cicero said, “Itaque adulescentes mihi mori sic videntur, ut cum aquae multitudine flammae vis opprimitur” (When the young die I am reminded of a strong flame extinguished by a torrent). The flame of Martin was burning brilliantly when it was extinguished by a torrent. He died too young. I sought solace for my sorrow in what Seneca said to Lucilius to console him for the loss of his friend Flaccus: “Et fortasse, si modo vera sapientium fama est recipitque nos locus aliquis, quem putamus perisse, praemissus est” (Perhaps, if only the tale told by wise men is true and there is a bourne to welcome us, then he whom we think we have lost has only been sent on ahead). Martin will be greatly missed by me as a brilliant physicist, a person of great integrity, and a truly wonderful colleague and friend.
Research: My research in quantum field theory and atomic physics ranges from non-perturbative aspects of QuantumChromoDynamics (QCD) and semiclassical studies of Casimir effects to the quantitative theoretical description of magnetic resonance experiments in atomic physics. My current research is at the interface of classical and quantum physics with particular emphasis on the following topics.