Sad news, everyone. I heard from his son today that Sir Olaf Pol passed away early this morning. As you may or may not remember, Sir Pol lived in Durham for many years. He was an amateur quantum physicist who presented his findings to a group at Duke several years ago, coincidentally on this date. His most striking—and controversial—contribution to his science was taking the “gedanken” out of the “gedankenexperiment” of Schroedinger’s Cat. A shocked audience listened to him describe how he took in stray cats of the streets of downtown Durham and Chapel Hill for these practical applications. Sir Pol’s son reports that three and a half of the cats survive.
Sir Pol is survived by his wife, Sofia Radly-Pol, and their three daughters and one son. Though none of his progeny share his flare for the dramatic in physics, they do plan to keep their father’s renegade spirit alive with the Sir Olaf Pol Endowed Chair of Experimental Fundamental Physics and Religious Studies at Duke University. I called the physics department, but everyone I talked to refused to comment. The Divinity School, however, mentioned that the first holder of the position, Scott Maxwell, will be studying demonology.
A memorial service will be held at the intersection of Research Dr. and Science Dr. on Duke’s campus this coming Saturday, where apparently be coffee and donuts will be served.