John D’Auria 1939–2017

John D’Auria, who was a driving force behind the TRIUMF laboratory’s emergence as a radioactive ion beam (RIB) facility, passed away on 22 October after a courageous fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was 78 years old.

John earned his PhD in nuclear science at Yale University in 1966, specialising in nuclear spectroscopy. Following a postdoc at Columbia University, in 1967 he was appointed as assistant professor of chemistry at the newly established Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada. SFU created its nuclear-science programme early on in anticipation of TRIUMF, which was founded in 1968, and John participated in the early planning for the lab.

A fateful sabbatical at CERN’s ISOLDE facility in 1975–1976 set the course for both John’s and TRIUMF’s future. At ISOLDE he was the first author of the paper reporting the discovery of 74Rb, and he became very interested in the isotope-separation technology at ISOLDE. This ultimately led John (along with Richard Azuma of the University of Toronto) to lead a group with modest funding and much resourcefulness to build the TRIUMF TISOL facility. ISOLDE and TISOL collaborated fruitfully, including an episode where TRIUMF imported, diagnosed and repaired a failed ISOLDE front-end. Notable TISOL successes included the so-called Red Giant experiment for studying alpha capture on carbon, which was of prime importance in astrophysics, as well as launching the TRINAT neutral radioactive atom trap programme, which is still active today.

TISOL’s success and John’s persistent advocacy for a RIB programme at TRIUMF set the stage for the lab’s decision to pursue construction of its ISAC facilities. His expertise was critical in ISAC’s early days as the new generation of RIB scientists was being trained. He was project leader for ISAC’s flagship experimental facility, the DRAGON mass separator, and under John’s leadership, DRAGON became the world’s premier facility for the study of radiative capture using radioactive beams.

John retired from SFU in 2004, but continued research that combined mass separators with his long-standing interest in medical applications for radioisotopes. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to nuclear science and major developments at TRIUMF, John was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2015. When he became ill, John was still very active in the planning for a new TRIUMF facility for the mass production of 225Ac for targeted alpha cancer therapy.

John created a worldwide network of collaborators and nurtured a generation of students into the worldwide nuclear astrophysics community. ISAC has opened up new fields of study at TRIUMF, not only in nuclear astrophysics but also in nuclear structure, in tests of the Standard Model, in unique applications in condensed-matter physics and in nuclear medicine. TRIUMF’s upcoming ARIEL facility can trace its roots to his rare ability to generate enthusiasm and excitement for the projects he championed. John D’Auria was one of a kind, and his talents and booming laugh will be sorely missed.

• His colleagues at TRIUMF.

Raoul Gatto 1930–2017

The passing of Raoul Raffaele Gatto in Meyrin, Geneva, on 30 September is a big loss for science and for a whole generation of particle theorists. After graduating at the Scuola Normale in Pisa, and a short stay at La Sapienza (Rome), Gatto held prominent positions at Berkeley and Frascati before occupying, successively, the chair of theoretical physics in Cagliari, Florence, Padua, Rome and, eventually, at the University of Geneva.

A member of the Accademia dei Lincei, the Accademia delle Scienze of Turin and the American Physical Society, he received numerous recognitions such as the Enrico Fermi medal and the prize of the President of the Italian Republic. For several decades he was editor of Physics Letters B and deputy director of the Rivista del Nuovo Cimento.

Gatto’s contributions to theoretical physics are too many to be listed here. We may just recall his joint work with Cabibbo on the muon neutrino and on weak hyperon decays (which formed the basis of Cabibbo’s discovery of the angle that carries his name), the Ademollo-Gatto theorem on the absence of first-order breaking of flavour symmetry in weak hadronic decays, his pioneering work on scale and conformal invariance in quantum field theory, and a series of papers on composite Higgs models.

While in terms of scientific achievements Gatto clearly belonged to the class of the theorists of his generation, he was head and shoulders above the crowd as a teacher. It is not easy to pin down the secret of his success in attracting young researchers to theoretical physics and in helping them grow and develop their own individual qualities. Both Luciano Maiani and myself, for instance, were dragged from experimental high-energy physics to theory by his charming, attractive personality. Luciano had already graduated as an experimentalist before joining Gatto’s group in 1964. I had to go through a long period of study and work before being accepted, but it was worthwhile.

When Gatto came to Florence, a group of very promising young researchers followed him one after another: Altarelli, Buccella, Celeghini, Gallavotti, Maiani and Preparata. Gatto created a stimulating, healthy, competitive atmosphere by distributing among us original, challenging research projects. We had to work things out without much help from him, except for letting us know, occasionally and very gently, that there was something that had to be changed in our approach. The whole group (soon dubbed the “gattini”) grew in strength and reputation, and soon we became capable of doing independent research. More senior theorists who were already in Florence (among them Ademollo, Chiuderi and Longhi) were also integrated in the new structure, together with students like myself, Casalbuoni and Dominici. This success story repeated itself when Gatto moved to Padue (with Sartori, Tonin and Feruglio) and then again in Rome (with Ferrara and Parisi).

It is often said that Enrico Fermi created the Italian school of particle physics after World War Two. I believe that, for theoretical physics, Raoul Gatto was the heir of Fermi, who best transmitted his legacy to the next generation.

• Gabriele Veneziano.

Ernst Heer 1928–2017

Born in 1928 in Switzerland, Ernst Heer attended the Argovian cantonal school (gymnasium) in Aarau, where Einstein obtained his scientific Matura about 50 years earlier. Heer studied physics at ETH Zürich, obtaining his doctorate in 1955 under the direction of Paul Scherrer and Wolfgang Pauli. From 1958 he continued his studies at the University of Rochester in the US before returning to Switzerland in 1961 as a full professor in nuclear physics at the University of Geneva, where he founded the department of particle physics. In addition to managing and decommissioning the nuclear reactor made available to the university, Heer’s research concentrated mainly on nuclear interactions between protons, neutrons and antiprotons, with experiments done at CERN and at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).

Parallel to his academic activities he managed the department of particle physics and became vice-rector of the university from 1967 to 1973, and then rector between 1973 and 1977. Thanks to his rigour and remarkable talents as an organiser, he became president of the Swiss Physical Society and of the Comité consultatif of the Swiss Nuclear Research Institute (presently the PSI), and represented Switzerland on the CERN Council.

In 1992 Heer established a successful European mobility scheme for physics students called EMSPS, based on his experience with a similar initiative in Switzerland. He gave a true impulse to this project, which was financially supported by the ERASMUS programme and had administrative support from the European Physical Society. EMSPS was the seed of further European networks such as EUPEN (European Physics Education Network), STEPS (Stakeholders Tune European Physics Studies), STEPS TWO and HOPE (Horizons in Physics Education), which ended just recently. All these networks would have been unthinkable without the original work by Ernst Heer.

A widower by the age of 59, he is survived by his older sister, his son Fabio, his daughter Livia and his four grandchildren.

• Martin Pohl, Hendrik Ferdinande and Peter Sauer.

Frank Paige 1944–2017

Frank Paige, senior scientist emeritus at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), passed away on 16 October following a stroke. Frank was born in Philadelphia and obtained his PhD in physics at MIT in 1970 under the supervision of Kerson Huang. He then went to BNL as a postdoc, where he would spend his entire career – apart from a two-year period in 1991–1993 when he was a senior scientist at the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) laboratory in Texas.

Frank’s research interests included perturbative QCD, collider phenomenology, detailed simulation of events for high-energy particle collisions, supersymmetry phenomenology, and in later years, experimental collider physics. In 1979, when QCD was still in its infancy, Frank (with J Kubar-Andre) was one of the first to correctly calculate the first-order αs QCD correction to Drell–Yan processes, finding that the correction was significant. That same year, this time with S Protopopescu, he released the world’s first publicly available event generator for hadron colliders, ISAJET. Originally ISAJET was conceived to simulate jet production for the ISABELLE pp collider at BNL, which was eventually cancelled. But it ultimately proved to be instrumental in the discovery of the W and Z bosons at CERN by UA1 and UA2, and was also used for most of the event generation for D0 for Run1 at Fermilab’s Tevatron. Together with H Baer and X Tata, Frank expanded ISAJET in the early 1990s to include supersymmetric particle cascade decays. They also built, in 1994, the first public renormalisation group code for calculating superparticle mass spectra, a part of ISAJET called ISASUGRA, which they used to propose collider exploration of the iconic m0 vs m½ plane of supergravity models.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Frank was a leading figure in the US community in its deliberations over the future of high-energy physics, serving, for example, as an editor on the influential 1982 Snowmass study on future facilities. He studied signatures and backgrounds for a variety of physics processes for the SSC and lower energy hadron colliders, including signatures for the top quark, for Higgs bosons and for supersymmetric particles. Although many of these studies went unpublished, they diffused into the collective knowledge-base of the high-energy physics community. Among his published works, in 1991 Frank was one of the first to propose a search for the Higgs boson in the ttH production mode (along with Bill Marciano, following the realization that the top quark was heavy). In a 1997 paper with Ian Hinchliffe and other collaborators, he proposed the study of a variety of kinematical end points arising from invariant mass distributions to obtain supersymmetric particle masses in possibly complex cascade decay chains.

Frank joined the ATLAS collaboration at the LHC in 1994, following the demise of the SSC, and worked primarily in the SUSY and jet/missing ET groups. He was an early convener of the SUSY group, helping to develop many of the initial physics studies and projections. He plunged head-first into nitty-gritty details of experimental work, for example providing the first ATLAS jet energy calibration. He was also a bit of a software guru, though in his characteristic modesty he would deny this.

Above all, Frank cared deeply about physics; he was driven by constantly trying to come up with new ideas, whether large or small, abstract or technical. He set a great example to younger people and was always generous with his time. Upon news of his death, there was a significant outpouring of memories and thoughts of gratitude from many colleagues, from ATLAS and elsewhere. He leaves behind no immediate family, but many of us came to believe that a little bit of him belonged to each one of us.

• His friends and colleagues.