A sad day on campus today as one of Canada's true pioneers in space science has died.
Ralph W. Nicholls, distinguished research professor emeritus (physics) at York University, director emeritus of the Centre for Research in Earth & Space Science (CRESS) and a member of the Order of Canada, has died.
A pioneer in the Canadian space science community, Prof. Nicholls died suddenly and peacefully in his home early Friday morning, Jan. 25. He was 81.
Ralph was a true library supporter and would often drop by the library to chat or to recommend a book for the collection. Always willing to talk or exchange stories, it was a pleasure to run into him on campus. I'll miss those visits and chances to chat.
Another quote from the press release, by York Prof. Gordon Sheppard:
"But Ralph was also a person of great humanity. He understood that his vision would be carried out by people, and so it was, in the process creating careers for energetic young scientists that CRESS attracted, many of whom have made major contributions to space science in Canada and worldwide.
"His greatest pleasure was in helping people, especially young people. This accounts for the enormous number of individuals who are remembering him now, and will do so for many years to come.
"I encountered him first as an MSc student at my first conference; he easily attracted attention. Later he hired me and provided a base for my research at York University; we have been close colleagues for many years. I am one of the many that are indebted to him and I will always remember his enthusiastic encouragement and his jovial laughter echoing in the hallway."
See this autobiographical page from a 2002 workshop for some of Ralph's insights on why he got into space science.
Update 2008.01.31: Globe and Mail notice.