Dedication to Bob Boyd


  • Alan G. Marshall

    1. Kasha Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Director, Ion Cyclotron Resonance Program, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
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My acquaintance with Bob Boyd began well before his accession to the position of Editor-in-Chief of Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry (RCM) late in 1997. We were talking about peak capacity in mass spectra (i.e., mass spectral range divided by the width of one peak). He explained to me the ‘birthdays paradox’ problem, namely, that the probability of two people having the same birthday becomes larger than 50% if the number of people in the sample exceeds ∼22. The analogy to chromatography (or mass spectrometry) is that the actual number of peaks that can be resolved, at probability higher than 50% that no two peaks overlap by less than one line width, is approximately the square root of the calculated peak capacity. In other words, the true ‘resolution’ for chromatography (or mass spectrometry) is a lot lower than one might expect, if one is dealing with mixtures rather than a single peak. The above example is just one of the instances in which Bob Boyd understands, and explains at a fundamental level, problems that others gloss over.

Bob also brings to the table a wry sense of humor, with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of slightly off-color jokes—in that respect, a worthy successor to John Beynon, the Founding Editor of RCM! Bob's easy manner—the Scottish accent does not hurt—and kind regard for his colleagues have made it possible for him to manage all of the (often contentious and conflicting) groups involved in editing a major journal: authors, reviewers, editors, publisher, and editorial board (with heartfelt but often impractical suggestions), without losing his temper or basic optimistic outlook. Seeing Bob always cheers me up, and I hope that we see him again (and frequently) in the future!