George B. Arfken


George B. Arfken
Born(1922-11-20)November 20, 1922
DiedOctober 8, 2020(2020-10-08) (aged 97)
Alma materYale University, 1943
Spouse(s)Carolyn Arfken née Dines
Scientific career
FieldsTheoretical physics, mathematical physics

George Brown Arfken (November 20, 1922 – October 8, 2020) was an American theoretical physicist and the author of several mathematical physics texts.[1] He was a physics professor at Miami University from 1952 to 1983 and the chair of the Miami University physics department 1956–1972.[2] He was an emeritus professor at Miami University.[3] Arfken was also an authority on Canadian philately.[4]


Arfken received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Yale University in 1943. He earned a Master's degree in physics in 1948 and a doctorate in 1950, both at Yale.[2]

Personal life

Arfken married Carolyn Dines, a graduate of Westminster College of Pennsylvania, in 1949, and they raised three children together. She died in 1997. In 1998, Arfken endowed a scholar-in-residence program in her name at Miami University.[2][5]

In retirement Arfken played a major role in developing the postal history of Canada for the 60-year period 1851–1911, following the pioneering work of Allan Steinhart. This was primarily a study of the postal rates, the routes the mail followed, and the postal markings on the envelopes and postcards. Arfken wrote one book on the United States' first postage-due stamps and then, with coauthors, nine books on the early Canadian postage and registration stamps. In addition there were over 250 articles in philatelic journals.

He died in October 2020 at the age of 97.[6]

Selected publications

  • 1949: S-Wave Proton-Proton Scattering from 0.2 to 40 Mev for the Yukawa and Gauss Error Potentials, Physical Review Volume 75
  • 1953: A Vector Addition Coefficient Identity, Physical Review Volume 92
  • 1961: Ionization of the interplanetary gas, Los Alamos Scientific Lab
  • 1973: Comment on “Elementary Use of Spheroidal Coordinates”, American Journal of Physics Volume 41, Issue 12, pp. 1375
  • 1966: Mathematical Methods for Physicists ISBN 0123846544
  • 1989: University Physics ISBN 0155929747, coauthored with David F. Griffing and Donald C. Kelly
  • 1989: Canada's Small Queen Era - Postage Usage During the Small Queen Era, 1870-1897
  • 2003: Essential Mathematical Methods for Physicists ISBN 9780120598779, coauthored with Hans J. Weber, Frank E. Harris


  1. ^ Who's Who in Technology Today, 1982-1983. J. Dick. 1982. p. 339.
  2. ^ a b c "George Arfken endows scholar-in-residence". Miami University News. July 21, 1998. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  3. ^ "Miami University Department of Physics". Archived from the original on December 26, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  4. ^ "Canada's Small Queen Era - Postage Usage During the Small Queen Era, 1870-1897". Canadian Philatelist. January–February 1990: 71. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Dr. Mark Havey named Arfken Scholar in Residence". Old Dominion University. 2005. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  6. ^ George Brown Arfken Jr. obituary