Oleksa-Myron Petrovych Bilaniuk,
Centennial Professor Emeritus of Physics at Swarthmore
College in Pennsylvania
and former President of The Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S.A. and
member of Shevchenko Scientific Society, died on
March 27, 2009, at home after a year-long battle with brain cancer. He was 82.
Prof. Bilaniuk was born on December 15, 1926 in the village of Sianichek, near Sianok,
in Lemkivshchyna in the Carpathian
Mountains, the only child of his parents Petro
and Maria Bilaniuk. During World War II he was taken
to work on a German farm, and then liberated by the US Army in 1945, ending up
in a displaced persons’ camp in Germany.
He eventually received a scholarship to the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, where he studied engineering. He came to
the United States in late
September 1951, after winning a scholarship to the University
of Michigan, Ann Arbor. There he earned two
B.S.E.s and two M.A.s
in mathematics and physics, and, in 1957, a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics. In
1960-62, at the University
of Rochester, he
collaborated with his colleague and friend George Sudarshan
to prove a possible existence of superluminal particles is fully consistent
with Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, even though Einstein himself said
that no object could move faster than light in vacuum. Their publication on the
subject became one of the most quoted physics papers.
joined the faculty of Swarthmore
College in 1964 as an
associate professor of physics. He was an innovative and beloved teacher.
During sabbaticals, Dr. Bilaniuk conducted nuclear
research at leading accelerators in the U.S.A.,
Germany, France, Ukraine,
Some of his work involved proving the existence of He2 (the diproton);
production of D++ in a hypernuclear reaction;
neutron-neutron quasifree scattering and nuclear
reactions induced by a 60 MeV gamma rays, among
others. Professor Bilaniuk officially retired from Swarthmore College in 1990, but he continued to teach
classes there until 1993 and remained active in Ukrainian-American scientific
organizations until 2008. He was very involved in editorial work, serving as
the physics editor and editorial board member for the five-volume Encyclopedia
of Ukraine, published between 1984-1993 and on the
editorial board of the Ukrainian Journal of Physics beginning in 1991. Dr. Bilaniuk was elected a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences
in 1992. He served as President of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences
in the U.S.A.
from 1998 to 2006, and in 2007 he was awarded a medal of recognition for his
service by Ukrainian President Yushchenko. Dr. Bilaniuk also collaborated with Ukrainian lexicographers on
a 100,000-word English-Ukrainian-English Dictionary of Physics and Technology,
to be published this year.
Oleksa-Myron Bilaniuk was a
certified FAA glider and single-engine pilot and flight instructor, an avid
world traveler, a fluent speaker of eight languages, and a member of the Burlaky in the Ukrainian scouting organization Plast.