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Strain Gauge Inventor Dies

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Thought you might be interested in this story I found in the Toronto
Globe and Mail this morning:

 Invented gauge to help measure weight

                  By Tom Long, Globe Staff, 4/6/2000

                    A rthur C. Ruge, the inventor of the ''strain
gauge'' used in many
                      weight-measurement devices and to determine the
stresses on metals,
                  died of heart failure Monday in his home in Lexington.
He was 94.

                  Mr. Ruge was born in Tomah, Wis. He graduated from
Carnegie Institute of
                  Technology in 1925. After working as a structural
steel engineer for several
                  years he earned a master's degree in civil engineering
and a doctorate in
                  engineering seismology at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology. He
                  joined the faculty at MIT in 1932.

                  He invented the strain gauge in April 1938, while
investigating the effects of
                  earthquakes on water towers.

                  In a story published in the Globe on March 3, 1986,
when he was named
                  inventor of the year by Boston's Museum of Science,
Mr. Ruge said he
                  remembered clearly the moment the idea came to him. He
was trying to
                  develop a device to measure the stresses on the
bottoms of scale models of
                  municipal water tanks. After months of failure, he
said, ''the invention just
                  popped into my mind, whole. I could see it clearly and
knew that it would
                  work.''

                  Using glue and fine wire, he created an instrument the
size of a fingernail. By
                  applying the wire in a rigid base (the glue) to the
surface of the tank, then
                  measuring the change in resistance in the wire as
stress was applied, an
                  accurate measurement of the stress was acquired.

                  Since its invention, the gauge has affected millions
of people around the
                  world. Virtually all commercial scales employ the
device as the
                  weight-sensing element. It has provided inexpensive,
accurate measurement
                  of stresses on aircraft components and gun barrels. It
was a strain gauge that
                  signaled Earth when the first lunar lander touched the
surface of the moon.

                  In 1939, the MIT Patent Committee granted Mr. Ruge all
rights to the
                  invention because while it was ''interesting,'' the
committee did not feel the
                  commercial use would be of major importance.

                  To market the device, which he called the SR-4 strain
gauge, Mr. Ruge and
                  Alfred V. de Forest co-founded Ruge-de Forest Inc. in
1939. After selling
                  the company in 1955, he founded Arthur C. Ruge
Associates, a consulting
                  firm that he owned and operated until his retirement
in 1974.

                  He leaves a daughter, Claire Bertucci; and two
grandchildren.

                  A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in
St. Brigid Church in
                  Lexington. Burial will be in Westview Cemetery,
Lexington.

                  This story ran on page E19 of the Boston Globe on
4/6/2000.
                  © Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

Jim Warne
Vancouver, BC