A tragic accident has claimed the life of Bjorn Wiik, director of Germany's DESY particle physics laboratory in Hamburg. "We have lost an important leader in the field of high-energy physics," says Burton Richter, who directs the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Wiik died last Friday after falling from a ladder while trimming a tree in his garden. He was 62.
Born in Norway, Wiik graduated from the Technical University of Darmstadt. In 1972 he joined DESY, where 7 years later he and three colleagues demonstrated the existence of the gluon, a subatomic particle that keeps quarks together. From 1981 to 1992, Wiik was project leader of the HERA storage ring, the highly successful electron-proton collider that allowed the study of proton structure with unprecedented precision. While under his direction, the DESY laboratory made great advances in understanding superconducting components for accelerators, notes Richter. "Germany will have to find a real good person to match him."