Following the 1999 death of physician John L. Simon, a paid obituary in the New York Times described his professional accomplishments. It neglected to mention, however, that he may have unwittingly provided the impetus for his first wife, Ruth B. Simon, to launch a trail-blazing career as a researcher in seismology.1

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Ruth took her first job in seismology at Lamont Geological Observatory (known today as Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) in the late 1950s—out of necessity, former colleagues recall, after she was divorced from John and left supporting two children. Simon joined the Seismological Society of America in 1957 and remained...

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