Early Academic Work—Tour of the
Charles then High Above Cayuga’s Waters
Nathan Cohen, 55, is a physicist, radio astronomer, and innovator/inventor,
with a broad scope of knowledge proven and applied across many fields. This foundation has provided
the perfect opportunity to gain insight into the application of fractals to antennas and electronics.
He started his academic career, at 17, at Harvard University under
Jack Pierce, where he worked as a research assistant on VLF radio propagation and radionavigation
(OMEGA). While taking an NSF summer course for high school seniors in physics and astronomy at the
University of Iowa, he did research on Jovian decametric emission, and then spent a semester in
engineering at Union College (NY) where he worked at the Dudley Observatory on its Fullam radio
telescope. In 1974 he moved to Brandeis University (http://pc.astro.brandeis.edu/BRAG/people)
as a physics and mathematics major, and he published his first scientific paper, while learning radio
astronomy and interferometry (arrays) under John Wardle, graduating magna cum laude with highest
physics honors in 1977.
Cohen did his graduate work in astrophysics at Cornell
University under Frank Drake and Carl Sagan, where he conducted extensive radio astronomy observing efforts
at Arecibo Observatory; NRAO; the VLA; and other facilities. In 1979 he became a Visiting Scholar at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working under Irwin Shapiro on Very Long Baseline Interferometry
(note: astronomers call arrays --‘interferometers’). He received his M.S in astrophysics from Cornell in
1982. He conducted thesis work at Haystack Observatory while a graduate research assistant at the Harvard
University/ Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and received his Ph.D. in astrophysics from
Cornell University with extensive work on radio interferometry and gravitational lenses.
Completing the Grand Tour of the Charles…
Since 1985, Cohen has applied analytical techniques(‘quants’) to stock and
options trading, both off-floor, and on-floor as an AMEX options trader. His trader activities recognize that
stock prices do NOT obey Gaussian statistics and that fractals provide the best description.
In 1987, Cohen joined Boston University (a hotspot in the
development of fractal geometry), where he retired in 2002 after various appointments as a professor of science;
engineering; telecommunications; and mechanical engineering, as well as a director of the Science and Engineering,
and Engineering Management programs. Cohen played a mentoring ‘Mr. Chips’ to over 800 students while at BU,
teaching them a variety of subjects, especially mathematics and engineering.
He has taught astronomy; bioastronomy; engineering mechanics; electric circuit
theory; signals and systems in telecommunications; process and operations management; history of technology;
calculus; differential equations; biology; discrete mathematics; cosmology; and several other courses.
Cohen has also held
research positions at Les Houches; NASA JPL; NASA Ames ; NAIC.
In addition to fractal antenna work, among Cohen’s scientific achievements
(many shared with colleagues) are: first detailed images of a gravitational lens via VLBI (1983/85); first
description of a passive SETI system (later an acknowledged inspiration for SETI@home)(1980); first evidence for
high velocity mass ejection from star forming regions (1980); identification of the best means of interstellar
communication in SETI. (polychromatic SETI’s DIPR)(1993/95); identification of the ‘melon’ of odontocetes
(dolphins and toothed whales) as a prism for Moire imaging in echolocation (1986); first real-time deconvolution
(deblurring) method in medical ultrasound(1990); first use of fractals as resonators (1990); first use of fractal
coding for optimization (rapid use of genetic algorithms)(1997); first description of ‘aperture engine’ dual use
of power collecting/antenna (1998); the analytical solution of the requirements for frequency invariance in
Maxwell’s Equations(1999); first use of metamaterials with fractals (2002); first wideband see-out-of invisibility
cloak (microwaves) (2008).
The Tortuous Path
Cohen built the first bona fide fractal element antenna in 1988. He used the
opportunity to “become his own grad student” and taught himself advanced antenna engineering, defining the state
of the art. He is one of the world’s most innovative antenna designers, now with 22 years of professional experience,
and 46 years of practical experience, stemming from his ‘ham’ antenna work over many years.
In 1995, Cohen co-founded Fractal Antenna Systems Inc. (now in Waltham,MA) and has
held position as CTO and Chairman; he is presently Chief Executive Officer. Cohen has also been a principle in HRN
Investment (1984-1989) and such startups as Biologix (1985-1988), and Gensonics(1995-1999). He was also a consultant
and principle of the Boston Research Group(1985-1989).
Cohen has published over 85 technical and scientific papers, and two books
(‘Gravity’s Lens’, and ‘Mysteries of the Milky Way’ (w/ D. Goldsmith)). He holds 25 US patents on ultrasound and medical
devices; real-time deconvolution; compression; image processing; antennas; and fractal engineering.
Cohen’s work has been described in CNN’s Science and Technology Week (1991); Wired
On Line (1997); Scientific American (1999); Sky and Telescope (2001); Discover Magazine (1998); Business Week (1997);
New Scientist (1998); PBS’s Science Trek (2009) and PBS’s NOVA (2008 and 2010) as well and many other publications.
Cohen is a member of the IEEE.
Cohen resides in the Boston area with his wife, son (when back from college), and
beloved dog Georgie. In his spare time he is an outdoorsman, hiker, radio amateur (W1YW), songwriter, professional
landscape photographer (with 48 years of photography experience) and powder hound skier, with (still) passable knees
and aspirations for mogul-less slopes.
Beams, Antelope Canyon ,AZ
2001,2002,2003 Nathan Cohen
Below Logan Pass