Bill Robinson (scientist)

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Bill Robinson

QSO
Born
William Henry Robinson

(1938-10-02)2 October 1938
Auckland, New Zealand
Died17 August 2011(2011-08-17) (aged 72)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Known forInvention of the lead rubber bearing
Awards Rutherford Medal (1999), Companion of the Queen's Service Order (2007)
Scientific career
Fields Seismic engineering, sea ice
InstitutionsRobinson Seismic Ltd.; Physics & Engineering Laboratory (DSIR)

William Henry Robinson QSO (2 October 1938 – 17 August 2011) was a New Zealand scientist and seismic engineer who invented the lead rubber bearing seismic isolation device. He grew up in West Auckland, New Zealand. He earned a Masters at the Ardmore School of Engineering, then a PhD in Physical Metallurgy at the University of Illinois. Robinson was director of the DSIR's Physics and Engineering Laboratory between 1985 and 1991. He continued to invent and develop seismic isolation devices, travel and lecture until his early 70s.

Auckland Metropolitan area in North Island, New Zealand

Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. The most populous urban area in the country, Auckland has an urban population of around 1,628,900. It is located in the Auckland Region—the area governed by Auckland Council—which includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,695,900. Auckland is a diverse, multicultural and cosmopolitan city, home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. A Māori-language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki Makaurau, meaning "Tāmaki with a hundred lovers", in reference to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions.

Metallurgy domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metals

Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their inter-metallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. Metallurgy is used to separate metals from their ore. Metallurgy is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to the production of metals, and the engineering of metal components for usage in products for consumers and manufacturers. The production of metals involves the processing of ores to extract the metal they contain, and the mixture of metals, sometimes with other elements, to produce alloys. Metallurgy is distinguished from the craft of metalworking, although metalworking relies on metallurgy, as medicine relies on medical science, for technical advancement. The science of metallurgy is subdivided into chemical metallurgy and physical metallurgy.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) is a now-defunct government science agency in New Zealand, founded in 1926 and broken into Crown Research Institutes in 1992.

Contents

Life's work

Robinson is most well known for his invention of the lead rubber bearing (LRB) seismic isolation device. He designed the LRB in 1974 while working as a scientist for DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Zealand). As he was a public service employee when he invented the device, the LRB patent was owned by the state. The LRB is used under more than US$100 billion worth of structures around the world [1] , including New Zealand's Te Papa Tongarewa (National Museum of New Zealand), the new Wellington Hospital, Victoria University Library and Parliament Buildings. Most significant bridges in NZ use base isolation technology.

Wellington Hospital, New Zealand Hospital in Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington Hospital is the main hospital in Wellington, New Zealand, located south of the city centre in the suburb of Newtown. It is the main hospital run by Capital & Coast District Health Board (C&CDHB), which serves Wellington City, Porirua and the Kapiti Coast District. Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt are served by the separate Hutt Valley DHB and a separate hospital, Hutt Hospital, in the Lower Hutt suburb of Boulcott.

Victoria University of Wellington public university in New Zealand

Victoria University of Wellington is a university in Wellington, New Zealand. It was established in 1897 by Act of Parliament, and was a constituent college of the University of New Zealand.

New Zealand Parliament Buildings house the New Zealand Parliament and are on a 45,000 square metre site at the northern end of Lambton Quay, Wellington. They consist of the Edwardian neoclassical-style Parliament House (1922); the Parliamentary Library (1899); the executive wing, called "The Beehive" (1977); and Bowen House, in use since 1991. Whilst most of the individual buildings are outstanding for different reasons, the overall setting that has been achieved "has little aesthetic or architectural coherence".

LRBs are also under the Bhuj Hospital (India) and the C-1 building (Tokyo)—the largest building in the world that is protected by these devices. The Christchurch Women's Hospital is the only building in that city that uses LRBs and it was able to continue operating without any problems throughout the devastating earthquakes that occurred between September 2010 and June 2011.

2011 Christchurch earthquake February 2011 earthquake in New Zealand

An Mw 6.2 earthquake occurred in Christchurch on 22 February 2011 at 12:51 p.m. local time. The earthquake struck the Canterbury Region in New Zealand's South Island and was centred 6.7 kilometres (4.2 mi) south-east of the centre of Christchurch, at the time New Zealand's second-most populous city. The earthquake caused widespread damage across Christchurch, killing 185 people in the nation's fifth-deadliest disaster.

During the severe 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles, the LRB-protected University of Southern California Teaching Hospital remained operational while the ten other hospitals in the area were so badly damaged that they had to be evacuated.

1994 Northridge earthquake Earthquake

The 1994 Northridge earthquake was a moment magnitude 6.7, blind thrust earthquake that occurred on January 17, 1994, at 4:30:55 a.m. PST in the San Fernando Valley region of the County of Los Angeles. Its epicenter was in Reseda, a neighborhood in the north-central area of the San Fernando Valley. The quake had a duration of approximately 10–20 seconds, and its peak ground acceleration of 1.8g (16.7 m/s2) was the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America. Strong ground motion was felt as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada, about 220 miles (360 km) from the epicenter. The peak ground velocity at the Rinaldi Receiving Station was 183 cm/s, the fastest ever recorded.

University of Southern California Private research university in Los Angeles, California, United States

The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research university in California. For the 2018–19 academic year, there were 20,000 students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs. USC also has 27,500 graduate and professional students in a number of different programs, including business, law, engineering, social work, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine. It is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles and generates $8 billion in economic impact on Los Angeles and California.

The William Clayton building in Wellington, New Zealand, was the first in the world to be base isolated with LRBs. It was built by the then Ministry of Works and Development.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications Computer Centre came through the 1995 Kobe quake unscathed and remained fully operational. This significant building is one that is pointed to as an example of how the lead rubber bearing technology saves a building and its contents. Following the Kobe quake there was a large uptake of seismic isolation technology and in particular the Lead Rubber Bearing in Japan.

Kobe Designated city in Kansai, Japan

Kobe is the sixth-largest city in Japan and the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture. It is located on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, on the north shore of Osaka Bay and about 30 km (19 mi) west of Osaka. With a population around 1.5 million, the city is part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area along with Osaka and Kyoto.

The second region in which these devices have been well used is California, following the Los Angeles and Northridge earthquake in 1994. The first use of an LRB in the USA was in 1984. Base isolators have since been inserted under more than 100 bridges and 70 buildings in the USA. Building codes in that country require all new hospitals to implement base isolation technology to ensure that they can continue functioning after a major quake.

In more recent years severe earthquakes in India and Turkey have generated interest in seismic isolation technology and many new buildings and bridges are being fitted with seismic isolation.

The costs of using base isolation for large structures have been found to be recouped in only a few years as insurance premiums are reduced so dramatically.

Robinson also invented the Roball and the Roglider base isolation systems for medium-weight and low rise buildings [2] , and the Lead Extrusion Damper, among other seismic isolation devices. He was founder, director and chief engineer of the world-leading seismic engineering company Robinson Seismic Ltd., which continues to test and manufacture his devices. In 1993 Robinson was co-author of An Introduction to Seismic Isolation, along with Ivan Skinner and Graeme McVerry. [3]

Life

After completing a Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Ardmore (Auckland University, 1958–61), Robinson did a PhD in Physical Metallurgy at the University of Illinois, titled "High Temperature Internal Friction (Damping) in Potassium Chloride" (1962–65). In spite of having no aptitude for languages, he spent a summer learning German so that he could do the course reading for his PhD. Following this he became a Research Fellow in Physics at the University of Sussex (1966–67).

After returning to New Zealand in 1967 Robinson joined the DSIR Physics and Engineering Laboratory (PEL) as a scientist. His work included developing experimental techniques using ultrasonics in solid state physics and initiating a research programme in the Antarctic on sea ice (where he spent a few summers between 1978–89). He also worked at the Scott Polar Research Institute in 1981–2 (Cambridge, UK). He later became Director of PEL (1985–91) and showed particular foresight in giving his full support to the new field of the High Temperature Superconductivity programme.

At the age of 52, Robinson suffered from a near-fatal stroke, spending 4 and a half months in hospital rehabilitation. His "indomitable spirit" [2] enabled him to re-learn how to walk, write and drive, and within six months of the stroke he was back at work as a scientist. In 1995 he founded Robinson Seismic Ltd. to promote, develop and manufacture his seismic protection devices. He semi-retired during his 60s, spending most of his time on a lifestyle farm overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but continued to lecture, travel and develop his seismic engineering ideas part-time.

Robinson married in his early 20s and had three children.

Honours

Robinson was a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He was awarded: the Rutherford Medal (the Royal Society Gold Medal for Technology, 1999); an Honorary DSc from Victoria University of Wellington (1995); the Hutton Medal (NZ Institute of Physics, 1992); the ER Coopers Medal for Engineering Research (NZ Royal Society, 1991); the Michaelus Medal for Physics (University of Otago, 1976). He was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order in the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honours. The Robinson Research Institute was formed at Victoria University of Wellington in 2014, and "named to honour the late Dr Bill Robinson—inspirational scientist, seismic engineer and early champion of HTS [high-temperature superconductivity] technology". [2]

On 2 October 2019, Google honoured Robinson by celebrating what would have been his 81st birthday with a Google Doodle. [4]

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References

  1. "Tribute to Dr Bill Robinson FRSNZ". Royal Society of New Zealand. 18 August 2011. Archived from the original on 3 June 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 "Bill Robinson | Robinson Research Institute". Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  3. Published by John Wiley & Sons, 1993, England.
  4. "Bill Robinson's 81st Birthday". Google. Retrieved 1 October 2019.