Memorial service for former physics chairman John Hart is Thursday at Bellarmine Chapel
Longtime physics professor dies at home on Xavier campus after lengthy battle with cancer
01/31/07John B. Hart, a former Department of Physics chairman who spent 50 years teaching at Xavier, died in his sleep on Thursday, Jan. 25, at his home on Xavier’s campus. He was 82.
Hart retired in 1999 at age 74 but never stopped his relentless inquiry in the field of physics. He boasted of his many student prodigies, some of whom have claimed their own notoriety of sorts in various areas of science such as nano-technology, astrophysics and medicine.
But the one thing of which he was most proud was the week-long conference he organized in 1962 when physicists from around the world came to Xavier to explore the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Effect and the theory of quantum mechanics. The International Quantum Mechanics Conference drew two Nobel Prize winners and Nathan Rosen, who with Boris Podolsky, then a Xavier physics professor, and Albert Einstein had developed the theory that was shaking the world of physics.
In a recent communication to fellow physicists, Hart described the conference as “a huge successful story in itself now used in super-secret cryptography and in many other areas.”
Since retiring, Hart became active in the Alpha Institute for Advanced Study, an organization formed to advance a new theory of physics developed by Myron W. Evans, a Welsh chemist. His unified field theory—unifying general relativity, quantum mechanics and electromagnetism—is cutting edge and controversial.
In addition to teaching at Xavier, Hart also taught physics at the University of Cincinnati, was a visiting professor at Florida State university, was a consulting professor at Ohio University and taught a special course on advanced physical science at Miami University. He taught seminars on hypnosis to physicians, surgeons, dentists and psychologists in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He also gave talks on science, mathematics and hypnosis on local public television stations, and he holds a U.S. patent in the field of mechanics for a frictionless bearing.
Hart was also proud of his military service. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy on destroyer escorts in the Pacific toward the end of World War II. He was an executive officer, communications officer and anti-submarine warfare officer and continued in the U.S. Naval Reserve for 26 years until his retirement as a lieutenant commander. As a reservist he taught navigation at reserve officer training schools in Rhode Island and California and was also commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Research Reserve Unit that met at Xavier and of the local Naval Reserve Training Center.
After the war, he earned his bachelor’s degree at Xavier in 1944 and his master’s in 1950. He began teaching as an assistant instructor in 1948 and became an assistant professor in 1956. He served as chairman of the department from 1957 to 1971 and again from 1982 to 1983. His biography is in numerous science publications including “American Men of Science,” ”Outstanding Educators of America,” and the 1982 edition of “Who’s Who in Technology Today” and the first edition of “Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology.”
Hart battled cancer in his final years, but throughout his treatment, he maintained a positive outlook. In one recent letter to friends and colleagues, he concluded, “What a wonderful life. Simply keep on keeping on during the very bad times. They may get better.”
He is survived by his wife, Verna Lee Gibson Hart, his daughter, Mary Agnes Hart McLain, and two grandchildren.
A memorial Mass for Hart is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1, at 10:30 a.m., in Bellarmine Chapel followed by a reception in the Conaton Board Room. The family suggests that memorials be sent to the American Cancer Society, 2808 Reading Rd, Cincinnati, Ohio 45206, or to Xavier's Department of Physics. Gilligan Funeral Home is handling arrangements.