Ovsat Abdinov 1944–2016

Ovsat Abdinov, member of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), died on 29 October at the age of 72, after a long illness. He was born in Belokan city, Azerbaijan, graduated from Baku State University in 1966, and defended his PhD thesis in 1972.

It is impossible to overstate the impact that Abdinov had in the creation and development of high-energy physics in Azerbaijan. His wide knowledge, inexhaustible energy, talent in organisation and search for young specialists led to the creation of his own school in this field that serves as an example for future generations.

Scientifically, Abdinov’s main interest was the theoretical description of hadron-nuclear interaction processes. He was the first to propose a hypothesis of the cluster formation in light nuclei, which was later experimentally proven. The laboratory he headed at ANAS Institute of Physics collaborated initially with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna and the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Serpukhov, both in Russia, followed by CERN.

The creation and expansion of relations between Azerbaijan and CERN paved the way for the participation of Azerbaijan scientists in the LHC, but this did not interrupt connections with Dubna: Abdinov was a staff member of JINR, deputy of authorised representative of the government of Azerbaijan Republic in JINR, and a member of JINR Scientific Council.

The creation of Azerbaijan’s first Worldwide LHC Computing Grid segment also owes its thanks to Abdinov.

Abdinov was a famous scientific representative of the Azerbaijan intelligentsia. He was an organiser and invited speaker at international conferences, a presenter of high-level reports and the winner of numerous research grants both in the former Soviet Union and in Azerbaijan. He dedicated almost 20 years of his scientific activity to investigations carried out within the ATLAS collaboration. We hope that his work will be continued by his scientific heirs and further benefit Azerbaijan high-energy physics.

• His colleagues.

Malcolm Derrick 1933–2016

Malcolm Derrick, a long-time leader in the Argonne high-energy physics (HEP) division, passed away on 31 October after a long illness. Born in Hull, UK, in 1933, Malcolm received his BSc and PhD degrees in physics from the University of Birmingham. After working on the cyclotron at Carnegie Tech, he moved to Oxford University in 1962 to help establish a bubble-chamber group working at CERN. In 1963 he moved to Argonne National Laboratory to work on the 12 GeV ZGS synchrotron then in construction.

While working on several bubble-chamber experiments with the 30 inch chamber, Malcolm’s main interest was in establishing a programme of neutrino physics using the 12 foot bubble-chamber then being built. He was spokesman for the first experiment using the deuterium-filled chamber, which produced several important results including the first measurement of the axial-vector form factor in muon neutrino–neutron quasi-elastic scattering. This result was verified by later BNL and FNAL experiments.

Malcolm served on two occasions as HEP division director and was always a source of good career advice. He enthusiastically supported the division's collaboration with the University of Minnesota to build an underground detector to search for proton decay in the Soudan Mine in Minnesota. This resulted in a rich programme of neutrino physics with a series of multi-kiloton detectors and in new underground laboratories at Soudan, using both atmospheric neutrinos and Fermilab neutrino beams. The important physics produced by the MINOS programme is the direct result of these early experiments.

After the closure of the ZGS programme, Malcolm initiated Argonne participation in two important experiments: HRS at the PEP collider at SLAC, where he proposed using the superconducting magnet of the 12 foot bubble chamber as the solenoid for the HRS spectrometer, and the ZEUS experiment at the HERA collider in DESY. Malcolm took sabbatical leave at University College London and later at DESY, where he served as physics chairman and oversaw such activities as physics publications. A gifted speaker, he served on several review committees and was a HEPAP member and an active participant in the Snowmass Conferences. He retired in 2006.

Besides being a brilliant physicist, Malcolm had a knack for entertaining his guests with stories about his life and endless anecdotes about history and philosophy. His spare time was spent reading good books, fine dining and listening to classical music. Malcolm leaves behind his wife Eva and his many children and grandchildren. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

• His colleagues.

Valery Khovanskiy 1940–2016

Russian physicist Valery Dmitrievich Khovanskiy passed away in Moscow on 7 September. A veteran of Russian experimental high-energy physics and long-time leader of the ITEP team in ATLAS, he will be remembered not only as an energetic contributor to the CERN neutrino and LHC programmes, but also as an honest and principled person who loved science and life.

Valery was born in Sverdlovsk in the former USSR, and received his PhD (for the study of cumulative effects in πN-interactions) at the Institute of Experimental and Theoretical Physics (ITEP, Moscow) in 1969. Since then, his main scientific interests were in the fields of neutrino physics, novel particle-detection methods and hadron collider physics.

In the first Russian accelerator neutrino experiment at the Serpukhov 70 GeV proton synchrotron (IHEP-ITEP, 1970–1978), Valery lead the detector construction and studied neutrino and antineutrino interactions to validate the then very young quark-parton model. In the late 1970s, Valery joined the CERN experimental neutrino programme at the SPS and PS, and became one of the senior scientists of the CHARM, PS-181, CHARM-2 and CHORUS experiments devoted to a systematic study of neutral currents, and the search for new particles and neutrino oscillations. From 1990 onwards, he participated in the ATLAS experiment. His group was active in the preparation of the Letter of Intent, working on the concept of radiation-resistant forward calorimeters, and, from 1995 to 2009, worked on the construction and commissioning of the ATLAS liquid-argon forward calorimeters, providing the major part of the tungsten electrodes.

From 1995 to 2012, Valery was the leader of the neutrino-physics laboratory at ITEP. He served on the LHCC from 1992 to 1994 and for a long period on the Russian government’s commission on fundamental research. He was also one of the founders and lecturers of the famous ITEP Winter School of Physics.

Valery had a vivid individuality and was invariably good humoured. His many pupils, colleagues and friends admired him and he will be very much missed.

• His friends and colleagues, ITEP and ATLAS.

Ted Wilson 1938–2016

Edmund (Ted) Wilson, a well-known figure in the world of particle accelerators and former director of the CERN Accelerator School (CAS), died after a short illness on 3 November.

The son of a schoolteacher in Liverpool, UK, he graduated in physics at the University of Oxford in 1959 and immediately joined the nearby Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. His first stay at CERN was in 1962–1963 and he returned in 1967 as a fellow, working in Werner Hardt’s group on the design of the booster for the new large synchrotron: the “300 GeV” machine, later to become the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS). He became the right-hand man of John Adams in 1969, helping him to prepare the project for approval by CERN Council, which was given in 1971. He became one of the first staff members of the new “300 GeV laboratory” set up for the construction of the SPS.

In 1973–1974, at the request of Adams, Ted spent a sabbatical year at Fermilab to work on the commissioning of the “main ring”, a machine very similar to the SPS. The lessons he learnt there would prove essential for the smooth commissioning of the SPS, for which he was responsible a few years later. Following the approval in 1978 of the bold proposal of Carlo Rubbia to turn the SPS into a part-time proton–antiproton collider, Ted started working on how to convert the machine from a synchrotron to a storage ring. He later worked on the design and construction of CERN’s antiproton complex: first the antiproton accumulator, to which a second ring, the antiproton collector, was later added.

Ted was a natural and gifted teacher. During the days of SPS construction he ran a series of courses on accelerator theory for members of the 300 GeV laboratory, which evolved into the book An Introduction to Particle Accelerators. Following his appointment as CAS director in 1992, he was responsible for organising 25 schools, in addition to special schools in India, China and Japan. He also coauthored a fascinating book on the history of particle accelerators and their applications: Engines of Discovery, a Century of Particle Accelerators.

On his retirement, Ted renewed his association with Oxford University by becoming a guest professor at the John Adams Institute of Accelerator Physics, where he taught and supervised students. He has helped to bring on a new generation of machine builders.

Ted Wilson will be sorely missed by the world’s accelerator community. He will always be remembered for his impish smile and his dry sense of humour. He is survived by his wife Monika, his three children and five grandchildren.

• His friends and colleagues.