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Frederic John Eppling, Laboratory for Nuclear Science physicist, dies at 95

In more than 60 years at the Laboratory for Nuclear Science, Eppling made significant contributions to particle, high-energy, and cosmic ray physics.
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Frederic John Eppling
Frederic John Eppling
Photo courtesy of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science.

Frederic John Eppling, a physicist at MIT's Laboratory for Nuclear Science, died on July 16 of congestive heart failure at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts. He was 95.

Eppling was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on March 16, 1920. He was awarded BS (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude), MS, and PhD degrees in physics from the University of Wisconsin. He distinguished himself academically by designing and building a mass spectrometer.

During World War II, Eppling was assigned to Harvard University's secret Radio Research Laboratory and helped to devise countermeasures against enemy radar. He also served with the U.S. Navy aboard the flagship USS Estes as lead radar officer during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After 30 years, he retired as a captain from active Naval Reserve duty. 

Eppling made significant contributions to particle, high-energy, and cosmic ray physics at MIT's Laboratory for Nuclear Science. He worked there for more than 60 years, first as associate director of the laboratory, and later as a staff physicist in the Electromagnetic Interactions Group, where he was head of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Administration and Communications Group. 

Among the groundbreaking research projects that Eppling worked on were the L3 Detector at CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics) in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Experiment, which is deployed on the International Space Station. 

Eppling’s devotion to his family and profession and his desire to remain active and independent until his final days were an inspiration to all who knew him. Many will also remember him fondly as an ardent fan of the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers football teams. 

Eppling’s wife, Sarah “Sally” Hennessey, whom he married in 1947 in Marblehead, Massachusetts, died in 1997. He is survived by his four children, John Eppling, Ann Eppling, Patricia Prior, and Michael Eppling, and Michael’s wife Susan. He is also survived by his grandchildren Emalie Prior and Brendan Prior. At the time of his passing, Eppling was a resident of Lincoln, Massachusetts, where he lived for 59 years.

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