Bad Astronomy

Bob Rood

Chances are, you didn’t know Bob Rood, and that’s too bad. A professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia, he was one of the good guys. He taught stellar interiors, a class I still look back at fondly. I learned a lot about astrophysics that semester, though I do recall an oral exam where I did, um, less than well… yet Bob was generous, supportive, and helpful to an extremely nervous grad student who was on the verge of throwing up during the exam.

Bob died yesterday. I dithered on what to write; it’s so hard to say the right thing. But then Nicole Gugliucci wrote a wonderful post about Bob, and there’s not much I can add to it. When I found out last night he had died, I told my wife about one of my favorite memories of Bob – it involves a coffee mug he had, one that I told Nicole specifically to look for when she talked to Bob a few years ago. I was glad to see Nicole wrote about that too; I think it sums him up pretty well.

One of the very few really positive things we can do that has a lasting effect is to shape the minds of those around us, teach them about the Universe, and instill a love for knowledge. Bob did all that. We could use a lot more like him.