By The Raleigh Telegram
DURHAM – Former Duke physics professor, expert in radiation, and Apollo 13 experiment designer Fearghus O’Foghludha passed away at the age of 85 on July 10th in Durham at the Duke University Hospital. Funeral and memorial services are being held today in the city.
Dr. O’Foghludha had a long career focusing on radiation in the field of physics and his work included stints at NASA, the Oak Ridge nuclear facilities, Duke University, East Carolina University, the Atomic Energy Commission, CERN, and other well known institutions.
Emigrating from Dublin, Ireland, the professor moved to the United States in 1963 with his family and later became a US citizen. He attended the University College Dublin in 1944 and later received several degrees including his PhD. in experimental physics from the National University of Ireland and later did studies at the University of Uppsala and University of Lund, both in Sweden.
Dr. O’Foghludha taught as a professor and eventually became chairman of radiation physics at the Medical College of Virginia from 1963 to 1970. He then taught radiation physics at Duke University from 1970 until his retirement in 1992, serving also as the director of the radiation physics division. He later taught at East Carolina University and remained active in his later years, even filing patents as late as September of 2011.
According to his family, Dr. O’Foghludha worked with NASA to design a solar radiation experiment that was to be deployed on the Apollo 13 mission, which returned to earth prematurely after a malfunction. According to NASA documents online, he also did grant work for NASA that focused on a variable energy gamma radiation apparatus at Duke University, which was used to calibrate scientific instruments that were used by NASA on the Apollo 16 and 17 missions and by the Goddard Space Center. He later refined his measurement techniques with later grant projects from NASA.
He also served as a consultant for the Atomic Energy Commission, CERN, and the National Institutes for Health. He was also very heavily involved in professional organizations, serving as the president of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine and was in the American College of Radiology and the Royal Society of Medicine in the United Kingdom, among other organizations.
His family described Dr. O’Foghludha as a witty and charming man, who loved Irish music and enjoyed playing the fiddle. “His like will never be seen again,” said his family in his obituary. He is survived by his wife Catherine who he was married to for 56 years and two children, Dr. Ria Mairead O’Foghludha who is a professor at Whittier College and the Honorable Michael O’Foghludha a Superior Court Judge in the 14th Judicial District. ::
Article Posted: Monday, July 16th, 2012.