Howard Brody, 83, physics professor

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Howard Brody

Howard Brody, 83, of Haverford, professor of physics emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, died Tuesday, Aug. 11, of complications from Parkinson's disease at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Dr. Brody taught physics at the University of Pennsylvania from 1959 until 2000, when he retired.

He was interested in the science of sports and, in particular, the physics of tennis.

The notion that tennis could be deconstructed from a physics point of view, to help players gain insight and added skill, attracted attention and turned Dr. Brody into one of the sport's leading voices.

"His scientific insights on tennis, and particularly racquet/ball interactions, are renowned among physicists, tennis pros, and players," according to

He was the author of Tennis Science for Tennis Players and The Physics and Technology of Tennis.

He also wrote Science Made Practical for the Tennis Teacher, published by the U.S. Professional Tennis Registry in January 1986. Many of its chapters were translated for publication in Japan.

Tennis Science for the Tennis Player was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in April 1987. The book is still in print.

"Important issues such as the role of string tension, the meaning of power, the importance of swing weight, and the relevance of the various sweet spots are addressed," said on its website.

He told an interviewer for that counter to what had been written in old tennis journals, "looser strings [not tighter] give you a little more power, a slightly higher ball velocity."

At one point, he was invited to coach the Penn tennis team after the former coach quit. He called that monthlong experience the highlight of his career, and "my dream come true," the interviewer wrote.

He was a member of the U.S. Tennis Association's sports scientific committee, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame as an educator.

Born in Newark, N.J., he graduated from Weequahic High School there. In 1954, he completed a bachelor of science degree in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Between 1954 and 1959, he earned a master of science degree and a doctorate, both in physics, from California Institute of Technology. He lived in Center City before moving to Haverford in 2011.

In person, Dr. Brody was full of fun, his family wrote in a tribute. "He had a wonderful sense of humor, loved the Marx Brothers, enjoyed pranks, and making science fun."

He was married to Lois Chase Brody; she died in 2011.

He is survived by daughters Victoria Stevenson and Deirdre Bernstein and five grandchildren.

Services were Wednesday, Aug. 12.

Donations may be made to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, for the Lisa Lin Brody Foley Fund, and mailed to Laura Weber, Penn Arts and Sciences Office of Advancement, 3600 Market St., Suite 300, Philadelphia 19104.