R.I.P. Ronald Drever

Another item of news I heard yesterday – much sadder this time – is that Professor Ronald Drever passed away earlier this week, on 7th March 2017, at the age of 85.  Ron Drever spent most of his working career at Caltech, who have posted a lengthy and glowing tribute to him which includes this quote from Kip Thorne:

“Ron was one of the most inventive scientists I’ve known, and his contributions to LIGO were huge,” says Thorne. “His approach to physics was so different from mine: intuitive rather than analytic. He could see things intuitively, quickly, that would take hours for me to understand in my more mundane way with mathematical calculations.”

It was almost certain that Ron Drever would have won a share of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics had he lived another year, as his work was essential to the discovery of gravitational waves last year by the Advanced LIGO facility. That result came just a little too late to win the 2016 prize but seemed to be a certainty for this year.  The loss of such a great character is always sad for friends, family and colleagues, but the timing in this case adds an ever deeper level of poignancy.

R.I.P. Professor Ronald William Prest Drever (1931-2017).

 

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2 Responses to “R.I.P. Ronald Drever”

  1. “His approach to physics was so different from mine: intuitive rather than analytic. He could see things intuitively, quickly, that would take hours for me to understand in my more mundane way with mathematical calculations.”

    This ties in with Thorne’s following statement about himself:

    I’m a real klutz computationally.

    My favourite Thorne quote, though, is this one:

    CALIFORNIA magazine, in an article on “The Man Who Invented Time Travel”, even ran a photograph of me doing physics in the nude on Palomar Mountain. I was mortified—not by the photo, but by the totally outrageous claims that I had invented time machines and time travel.

  2. Sad news. I met him a couple of times when I was an undergrad in Glasgow (way back in 77-81). Sorry he missed the Nobel.

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