Today's New York Times has an obituary for Martin Kruskalz, a mathematician who taught at Princeton and Rutgers. He died on December 26. One of the principal reasons Kruskal merited a signed obit, with photo, is his work on solitons. The Times credits him and Norman Zabusky, his collaborator, with coining the term. (Solitons are solitary waves that can travel long distances without being dissipated; see, for example, this very short video.)
The obit prompted a Proustian moment, taking us back to the days when Ross Adey (1922-2004) would speculate on possible mechanisms for the low-level EMF effects that he was seeing in his lab. He would often end his talks by suggesting that solitons might explain how energy could tunnel through the cell membrane and bring about biological changes. Those days are history: No one talks about solitons on the EMF circuit anymore. Instead, contractors are lining up to show why such effects are impossible.