The death of my friend Andrei Sakharov on Dec. 14, 1989, silenced the voice of "the spokesman for the conscience of mankind," as he was called by the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize Committee. Sakharov was most widely known as the father of the Soviet H-bomb and was admired for his courageous leadership in defense of human rights, and in the quest for peace. As important as these efforts were to the course of world history, his physics colleagues like myself also recognized a great scientist whose brilliant career as a theoretical physicist was distinguished by seminal research contributions to fundamental physics, including the behavior of plasmas and the properties of elementary particles.

In fact, it was at a physics seminar in Moscow in 1974 that I first met Sakharov and we began a friendship built around our shared physics interests as well as our mutual concerns about human rights and...

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