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"NUM" 2007 Obituary


NUMAKURA o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-01-02 published
SENBA " Semba," Masayoshi
Passed away peacefully at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on December 30, 2006 at the age of 59. Born in Sendai, Japan on October 24, 1947, Masayoshi was the first son of Masataka and Kazuko SENBA. Growing up in Tokyo, Masa showed keen interests in physical sciences from early on, setting up his first laboratory in a closet when he was 11. Convinced that physics held the key to truth, Masa studied at the Tokyo University of Education, where he met Kazue (née NUMAKURA) who was playing in the same university orchestra. They were married in 1972. The couple moved two years later to the U.S.A. to study at Rutgers University and Masa obtained a Ph.D. in physics in 1980. In 1981 he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to conduct experimental and theoretical research in solid state, atomic and nuclear physics and physical chemistry at TRIUMF. Masa moved to Halifax in 1996 to join his wife and later became a Professor Research in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science at Dalhousie University. Masa made original contributions to several fields of physics. In particular he provided a precise theoretical frame work, called the time-ordered stochastic method, to investigate spin and charge exchange phenomena involving hydrogen-like species, with the goal to understand various experimentally observable quantities in terms of fundamental physical quantities inherent in the process in question, such as quantum mechanical spin flip rates and atomic collision cross sections. His theoretical method has been applied successfully to a wide variety of experimental situations in solid state physics, physical chemistry, and atomic physics. He lectured regularly at the Russian Academy of Sciences Winter School of Physics in St. Petersburg, Russia since 1998, and gave a series of seminars at the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory in Oxford, United Kingdom in 2002. Masa also taught physics at Dalhousie University, where he was known to push his students hard while taking great care to ensure thorough understanding, always earning their respect and appreciation. In 2002 he received from the Dalhousie Undergraduate Physics Society the first Langstroth Memorial Award, which recognizes an instructor of physics who shows the greatest love of teaching and the strongest desire to assist students in all matters. In addition, Masa's interests in philosophy (including Kant) led him to teach Einstein's theories to students at the University of King's College in Halifax. As a self-taught viola (and violin) player, Masa found great joy in playing in orchestras, including the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra and Dalhousie Music Department Orchestra. He also cherished playing string quartets and other chamber music, most recently as a member of the Mostly Telemann Ensemble since 1996 and the Edward Street Quartet since 1997 in Halifax. Deeply fond of the German language, Masa studied it steadily throughout his life, reading original writings of great composers including Brahms. He and his wife took great pleasure in following the steps of these composers in Austria, Germany and other countries in Europe. Masa was predeceased by his father Masataka SENBA. Masa is lovingly remembered by his wife Kazue SEMBA in Halifax and his mother Kazuko SENBA, brothers Tamio and Hideo and other family members in Tokyo. According to Masa's wish, there will be no funeral, but a get-together to remember him will be scheduled at a later time in Halifax. The family would like to thank the staff of the QEII Halifax Health Sciences Centre, particularly the Palliative Care Unit, and Victorian Order of Nurses nurses for their care, concern and kind support for Masa and the family during his illness.

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