We are all individuals, all unique, all special to our close friends and family. Yet in our lives we meet people who have strengths and qualities that have universal worth to the whole family of humanity. Dr. Kyoung Hye Moon showed such qualities in the way she lived her life, pursued her love of cosmic ray science and faced cancer. This is her story.
Dr. Moon's short life was characterized by her beauty, intelligence and especially her deep and friendly humanity. These gifts were complemented by purpose, dedication and love for the science of cosmic rays. During her doctoral research at the University of Korea in Seoul, South Korea, she studied, using a microscope, over 2,700 tracks left by iron nuclei (a fiducial cosmic ray) in photographic emulsion. The fruits of her Herculean labor (each track requires many hours of concentrated study) were important. Dr. Moon showed that the interactions between the iron nuclei and the emulsion were extraordinarily complex and that simple theoretical models that had been in vogue were seriously deficient. Her work was, as in much science, an answer to part of the puzzle; this topic remains at the cutting edge of contemporary research. However, the diligent attention to detail that Dr. Moon displayed in her research has characterized the studies of the great scientist and portended a promising career.
Responding to a desire to study cosmic rays further she came (in 1987) to Louisiana State University in America. After two years she accepted a better position in the cosmic ray group at NASA's MSFC and moved to Huntsville, Alabama, otherwise known as rocket city due to the pioneering rocket work done there by Werner von Braun and colleagues.
Dr. Moon was a great asset to the cosmic ray group at NASA's MSFC. Her career advanced and because of her exceptional ability she obtained a position with the highly respected Universities Space Research Association. Not only was her work of the highest standard but her delightful happy personality brightened the days of all who met her. In her elegant attire and her strong upright gait, that sent her heels hard to the floor, there was a confidence and joy in living that brought many friends. Dr. Moon was a fine ambassador for Korea and Korean science. Although Dr. Moon worked many evenings and weekends she was also able to achieve a long sought ambition: a Karate brown belt.
Dr. Moon's research was progressing well and she now felt the confidence and desire to start her own research programs. To this end she was working on two proposals were she would be the principal scientist. For one of these proposals she overcame substantial experimental difficulties and made a detector work. Those who witnessed the work remember her happy bubbling smiles when she demonstrated the detector operating correctly. At the 23rd International Cosmic Ray conference in Calgary, Canada, (July 1993) Dr. Moon gave an excellent paper describing her very detailed measurements of electron/positron pairs. This contribution was cited in a summary talk that highlighted the best parts of the conference. It seemed certain that Dr. Moon would make a significant contribution to the science of cosmic rays. At the Calgary meeting she was also offered a place at Prof. Shapiro's prestigious biannual School of Cosmic Ray Astrophysics. Since she had attended once before this was a rare honor. Sadly she would not attend.
Dr. Moon was diagnosed with cancer in October of 1993. In the days that followed Dr. Moon maintained her dignity and waged a courageous fight for life. Before returning to Korea Dr. Moon wrote to Prof. Shapiro telling him of her illness but saying she did not want to lose her chance to attend his school. Although Dr. Moon fought with everything the cancer took her life in February of 1994 as she lay surrounded by her beloved family. Dr Moon was only 35. She was unable to realize her dream to attend Prof. Shapiro's School of Cosmic Ray Astrophysics.
Although Dr. Moon's time in this life was tragically short it was outstandingly rich in quality. Those of us who were lucky enough to meet Dr. Moon will forever carry the delightful ambiance of her in our memories. However, we (her friends and colleagues) all felt that such a spirit and dedication must be celebrated in a special manner. In order to accomplish this we have sought to provide a permanent opportunity for the young scientists of the world to attend the prestigious School of Cosmic Ray Astrophysics that Dr. Moon spoke so warmly of. We believe that Dr. Moon would be delighted that others will benefit from her life. It was always her nature to help.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © [Dr. Arthur E. Smith]. All rights reserved.