10.16.06

A Tribute to Dr. S. Peter Rosen

"I would urge you to adopt the goal of keeping the United States a world leader in the field of Elementary Particle Physics... It is my strong belief that being a world leader in Elementary Particle Physics is an important element in our national scientific strength, and therefore in our overall strength as a nation. Elementary Particle Physics produces new knowledge, inspires the next generation, and produces spin-offs that change the way we do all of science and live our daily lives… I am firmly convinced that being a world leader in Elementary Particle Physics is an integral part of our national strength, scientifically, economically, and security-wise, and I hope that you will agree with me."

From the statement by Dr. S. Peter Rosen on "Elementary Particle Physics in the 21st Century," before the National Research Council's "EPP 2010" Committee, in Washington, DC on November 30, 2004

Simon Peter Rosen, a leading theorist in elementary particle physics, an international authority on neutrino physics, and a director of major high energy and nuclear physics programs at the Department of Energy (DOE), died on October 13, 2006 at his home in Rockville, Maryland, after a courageous three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

At the time of his death, Dr. Rosen was Senior Science Advisor to the Director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science, a position he had held since 2003. He was Associate Director of High Energy and Nuclear Physics (HENP) in the DOE Office of Science from 1997 to 2003.

"Peter Rosen was a colleague and friend we shall all miss so very much," said Raymond L. Orbach, the U.S. Department of Energy's Under Secretary for Science. "He was an inspiration to all of us, for his dedication to science, his commitment to students and learning, his courage in the face of a terrible cancer, and most of all his humanity and thoughtfulness. His love of science infected all who were privileged to work with him. A deep religious belief combined with a remarkable intellect moved his science onto a higher plain of meaning and significance. My grief is shared by all who knew and loved him. I offer my deepest condolences to his dear family."

The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, providing more than 40 percent of total funding for this vital area of national importance, and it is the principal federal funding agency of the nation's research programs in high-energy physics and nuclear physics. As Associate Director of HENP, Dr. Rosen oversaw an annual budget of $1 billion.

During Dr. Rosen's tenure as Associate Director of the Office of High Energy and Nuclear Physics, high energy physicists and astrophysicists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory made one of the most important and amazing scientific advances of the past century: the discovery of dark energy, which accounts for 70 percent of the energy in the universe. Experiments based in Canada and Japan, with strong support by HENP, made another very important discovery: that neutrinos have mass and oscillate among three different forms. Two new research facilities, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the B Factory at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), began operations and made fundamental discoveries related to the first moments of the universe. A major upgrade was completed for the Fermilab Tevatron, the highest energy particle accelerator now operating. With the help of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, Dr. Rosen established a 20-year roadmap for high energy physics and a new mechanism to update the roadmap and set priorities for mid-size and mid-term projects.

"Peter Rosen provided important and visionary leadership as Associate Director of the DOE Office of High Energy and Nuclear Physics," said Dr. James F. Decker, Principal Deputy Director of the DOE Office of Science. "Peter helped advance the field's pursuit – and the public's understanding – of the beauty of the origin, fundamental structure and forces of matter, and he was a terrific colleague to fellow physicists at research universities, national laboratories, professional societies, and science agencies here in the United States and around the world. And he was not only professionally accomplished; Peter was a wonderful human being, always a first-class gentleman."

"I worked with Peter during my last two years as Director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center," said Burton Richter, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976 and was Director of SLAC from 1984 to 1999. "He was always driven by the desire to do the best possible physics with the funds available. A little known contribution of his is beginning the negotiations with NASA on the first DOE-NASA joint program, the GLAST experiment, which started what will continue to be an illustrious joint program."

Dr. Rosen completed negotiations for U.S. participation in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory, a major new European research facility that will begin operations in 2007 and be a key resource for the U.S. high energy physics program.

"In addition to his distinguished work as a theorist, Peter was instrumental in setting up the U.S. contribution to the LHC project at CERN," said former CERN Director General Luciano Maiani. "He displayed a clear vision of the importance of international collaboration in modern science. Although he was a committed defender of the interests of his country, CERN remembers him as a loyal partner who never lost sight of the long term goals of science."

Dr. Rosen was a gifted teacher, graceful writer, and effective advocate for the field of particle physics, which he sought to make more accessible to the general public. Even while undergoing intensive cancer treatments, he continued his energetic efforts on behalf of physics for as long as possible.

In November 2004, he delivered testimony before the National Research Council's "EPP 2010" Committee, which was charged with charting a course forward for Elementary Particle Physics in this country.

In September 2006, Dr. Rosen published an eloquent tribute to Nobel Laureate Ray Davis Jr..pdf file (458KB), "discoverer and grand pioneer of the solar neutrino problem," in the CERN Courier.

Dr. Rosen led the DOE Office of Science's observance of the 2005 World Year of Physics, during which he wrote articles about the role of physics in science and engineering, delivered a lecture entitled "Einstein Made Easy: Special Relativity at the Heart of Office of Science Programs,".pdf file (268KB) and recommended DOE co-sponsorship of "Einstein's Big Idea," the PBS NOVA program in honor of the centenary of Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2.

Dr. Rosen also was a proponent of the DOE's co-sponsorship of "The Elegant Universe," the 2003 PBS NOVA program on string theory based on the book by Brian Greene and narrated by the author.

"Peter Rosen intuitively understood the value of humanizing science for the general public, of showing scientists as living and lively individuals with a special passion to understand the world around them," said Paula Apsell, founder and Senior Executive Producer of NOVA. "Perhaps that's because Peter was one of those people – an accomplished scientist and a wonderful person. In him, science and humanity mixed in a most appealing and important way."

"Peter Rosen was a wonderful man with a gentle soul," said Brian Greene, Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University. "A highly accomplished physicist, he understood well the value of making cutting-edge scientific ideas available to the general public. His support of both science and science communication was crucial and unwavering, and because of this his impact has been broad and far reaching. He will be dearly missed."

During the last year of his life, Dr. Rosen returned to his favorite field of physics and served as Program Director for the Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF).. There, he once again stewarded the field by making grants to Principal Investigators with the most compelling proposals for basic research, and he mentored those at the beginning of their careers in the process of obtaining their first grant. Dr. Rosen also gave his last two invited talks on neutrino physics at an international conference.

"The NSF Division of Physics was very fortunate to have a person of Peter's rare talent and personal quality spend a year with us," said Joe Dehmer, Director of NSF's Division of Physics. "He had a true passion for physics and a genuine affection for physicists."

Dr. Rosen also was a man of great faith, which sometimes was manifested in his work. Here is how he opened an article on "The March toward Higher Energies"External linkthat he wrote for Los Alamos Science in 1984:

In the Book of Genesis, we are told that … unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael; and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech. And Lamech… And so it is with particle accelerators! Each generation of these machines answers a set of important questions, makes some fundamental discoveries, and gives rise to new questions that can be answered only by a new generation of accelerators, usually of higher energy than the previous one.

Before joining the DOE Office of Science, Dr. Rosen was Dean of Science and a Professor of Physics at the University Texas at Arlington from 1990 to 1996, a Visiting Scientist at the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory from 1990 to 1993, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Sussex, England, from 1989 to 1992.

Dr. Rosen was Associate Division Leader for Nuclear and Particle Physics of the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1983 to 1990, a Program Associate for Theoretical Physics at the National Science Foundation from 1981 to 1983, Senior Theoretical Physicist at the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration Division of High Energy and Nuclear Physics from 1975-1977.

Boris Kayser was Program Director for Theoretical Physics at NSF from 1975 to 2001, is now a member of the theory group at Fermilab, and collaborated with Peter Rosen on their mutual passion, neutrino physics. "Peter was a courtly, scholarly scientist," said Dr. Kayser, who is vice-chair-elect of the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society. "I had the good luck to know him as a researcher, an administrator, and a friend. He taught me a lot about nuclear double beta decay, whose physics he and Henry Primakoff pioneered. As an administrator, he was a steadfast, generous supporter of science and the careers of scientists. As a friend, he was quietly insightful, and gently considerate and supportive. He will be greatly missed."

Dr. Rosen began his professional career as a Research Associate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri from 1957 to 1959. He then became a Scientist at Midwestern Universities Research Association in Madison, Wisconsin from 1959 to 1961, and was a NATO Fellow at Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford, England from 1961 to 1962.

Dr. Rosen then joined Purdue University, where he was Assistant Professor from 1962 to 1963, Associate Professor from 1963 to 1966, and Professor from 1966 to 1984.

Dr. Rosen received his B.A. in mathematics in 1954 and both an M.A. and D.Phil. in theoretical physics from Merton College, Oxford University, in 1957.

Peter Rosen was born in London, England, in 1933 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1972.

Dr. Rosen was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society (APS).

"In addition to his distinguished career as a theoretical physicist,"
said John Hopfield, President of the APS, "Peter Rosen was a dedicated public servant who, most notably, held important administrative posts at both the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. His contributions to physics and science policy will long be remembered. Peter waged a courageous battle against a life-threatening illness, never flagging in his sense of duty and service. We will miss him greatly. On behalf of the American Physical Society, I extend my sincere condolences to his wife and family."

In 2000, Dr. Rosen was named Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas at Arlington for his "years of excellence in teaching, internationally acclaimed research, and administrative service to the University."

In 2004, Purdue University awarded Dr. Rosen an honorary degree for "fundamental contributions to our knowledge of the weak interactions in the areas of neutrinos and double beta decay, and for his vision and leadership in his oversight of the U.S. Elementary Particle Physics Program."

Dr. Rosen published 92 scientific papers and 11 review articles, edited two books, and gave 32 invited talks at major conferences.

Peter Rosen is survived by his wife of 19 years, Adrienne Rosen of Rockville; his son Daniel Rosen of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; his daughter Sarah Rosen of San Francisco, California; his stepson Robert Hayes of Rockville; his stepdaughter Brooke York, her husband David, and their daughter, Megan, of Arlington, Texas.

Last modified: 3/15/2013 5:07:44 PM