Ben Mottelson (founding ECT* Director) passed away

ECT* regrets the passing of Prof Ben Mottelson (Nobel prize physics 1975) at the age of 95. Prof Mottelson played an essential role in the establishment of ECT* in the early 1990s and served as its founding Director from 1993 to 1997.

Around 1990, the idea of founding a European Centre for Theoretical Nuclear Physics began to take shape. In the United States the Institute of Nuclear Theory (INT) in Seattle was already active and successful. It was considered desirable to establish a European counterpart of such an institution that could coherently promote nuclear theory activities in Europe and foster the exchange between theory and experiment in the broad field of nuclear physics and its related areas.

Ben Mottelson and Aage Winther took the initiative in formulating a plan for such a European centre at the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) in Copenhagen. Early in 1991 a committee, chaired by Oriol Bohigas, was appointed to explore the situation and collect proposals. In October 1992 a memorable meeting was held in Orsay to discuss the report of the Bohigas committee. A group of nuclear theorists from all over Europe gathered to discuss perspectives. The emerging decision in favour of Trento was based on the infrastructure and expertise in theoretical physics that already existed at the University and— very importantly— on the strong support offered by the Province through the Istituto Trentino di Cultura (ITC).

The decisions taken at the Orsay meeting included the nomination of the first Board of Directors, the main organ of the Centre, representing the community of physicists who support its scientific activities. This Board nominated Ben Mottelson as founding director and David Brink as vice- director, while Renzo Leonardi was given the charge of Scientific Secretary.

Photo: Ben Mottelson is shown second from left

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