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Hansen's Method for Absolute Perturbations. Maxwell Sandford

I first met Maxwell T. Sandford II (known familiarly as Brook) when he was a high school member of a "Moonwatch" team that manned a station in Kansas City, Mo. Such stations had been set up, primarily in the United States, to observe the positions of near-earth satellites whenever they passed in the vicinity of the stations at twilight time. Later this type of work would be done by personnel using wide-angle cameras, such as the Baker-Nunn, and located at a number of sites throughout the world. Brook was an exceptionally active observer with the intelligence to match; the particular quality that he possessed was a positive, confident attitude. He entered K.U., majored in astronomy, then went into the M.A. program and received this degree in 1967. His thesis was titled On Hansen's Method for Absolute Perturbations, a very difficult subject. He then entered Indiana University, and received the Ph.D. in 1971; his thesis was The Monte Carlo Method Applied to Cool Stellar Atmospheres. The Monte Carlo approach might be described as ray tracing coupled to probability theory; in practice it can be used to simulate many physical processes, and has been particularly effective in solving problems in light or particle scattering. As computer technology developed, the computation time per arithmetic operation decreased dramatically, and this in turn enabled the Monte Carlo to be ever more effective.

Brook obtained a staff member position at LASL (the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory), where he applied Monte Carlo and other radiative transfer methods combined with hydrodynamic programs to simulate low altitude nuclear explosions. He also did research in low-light imaging systems, high-speed instrumentation, LIDAR, star formation modeling, computer operating systems, energetic materials used in combination with sounding rockets, and most recently (1998) digital steganography, Windows NT kernel-mode drivers and file systems. He has published nearly seventy papers and reports on these subjects, and he holds seven patents. Interestingly enough, Brook's life-line crossed mine at Los Alamos in 1971, when we became colleagues in Group J-10, LASL.

I'll now quote Brook from a recent e-mail: "Horak and Storer encouraged undergraduate students who were really interested in astronomy. The 27-inch Pitt telescope and student office space was made available to them, and I soon learned to operate the instrument by working with the experienced students, Robert Wolfe and Frank Younger. The pleasure of doing astronomy full-time was immense, and the astronomy offices were undoubtedly one of the most heavily used facilities on the campus. However my own special interest in tracking satellites to obtain positional measurements was done better with wide-field instruments; I mounted two such 5-inch refracting telescopes on the roof of Lindley Hall, and these were used visually to make positional measurements of dozens of satellites. Also in 1964/5 one of the most spectacular comets of the century appeared. Comet Ikeya-Seki was a marvelous sight to the east over Bailey Hall, its tail extending towards the zenith before sunrise. This was my first view of a really good comet, and we all agreed it would be outdone only by Halley on its return two decades later. Of course Halley proved to be a great disappointment, but the appearance of Hyukatake and Hale-Bopp, not to mention the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter, more than compensated."

Brook and his wife, Jana, live in Pajarito Acres, Los Alamos, NM. He has a seventeen year old son, Max, from a previous marriage.


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