EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan State University says Henry Blosser, a pioneering nuclear physicist and founding director of its cyclotron facility, has died. He was 85.
The university said Blosser died March 20 in a Lansing hospital, and a memorial service is scheduled for April 19 at the university’s Alumni Chapel.
Blosser joined the East Lansing school in 1958 and oversaw the creation of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory.
University President Lou Anna Simon said in a news release that Blosser laid the groundwork for many scientific accomplishments to come.
“Henry Blosser was truly one of the pioneers in the field of nuclear physics, an internationally acclaimed scientist who has left an indelible mark on the field,” she said. “It was through his efforts that the NSCL became the premier research facility of its kind in the world.”
A cyclotron is a machine that hurls atoms against each other at a rate of 100,000 miles per second. The speed allows scientists to separate the nuclei of the atoms and study their properties.
Simon and others say Blosser’s efforts put the university in the position to compete for — and win — the federally funded Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, which is awaiting construction pending approval from the U.S. Energy Department. The rare isotope accelerator would allow physicists to explore the structure and forces that make up the nucleus of atoms, test theories about the fundamental structure of matter and possibly play a role in developing new nuclear medicines and techniques.
“He built the laboratory, and he built this culture of always looking for something new and something that would keep the laboratory … at the forefront of the field,” Sam Austin, co-director of the cyclotron lab in the 1980s and his immediate successor, told the Lansing State Journal for a story published Thursday.
Blosser, who retired from Michigan State in 1989, also was an adjunct professor at Wayne State University’s Department of Radiation Oncology. He designed a superconducting cyclotron used in radiation treatments.
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