Vice-Chancellor pays tribute to Sir Mark

Monday, 17 July 2000

Adelaide University Vice-Chancellor Professor Mary O'Kane has paid tribute to the memory of Sir Mark Oliphant, whose death was announced today.

"Sir Mark was one of the outstanding figures of Australian science," she said. "He made an enormous contribution as a physicist and a science administrator and was among Adelaide's University's most eminent graduates.

"He was a fine experimentalist who developed some elegant large machines to look at some very small particles.

"His other major achievement was in alerting the community - and particularly scientists - to the serious ethical implications arising from new weapons of mass destruction. This concern stemmed from his own involvement with the Manhattan Project."

Sir Mark graduated from Adelaide University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1923. He went on to Cambridge University and later became the first Director of the Research School of Physical Sciences at the Australian National University.

After an interval of nearly 50 years, he resumed his association with Adelaide University in 1971 upon his appointment as Governor of South Australia and Visitor of the University.

Professor O'Kane said that during the term of Sir Mark's Governorship, the University set aside a room at the School of Physics which Sir Mark used occasionally for research. He also enjoyed attending physics seminars at the University.

Professor O'Kane said Sir Mark had also hosted visiting international physicists at Government House and had generously invited the University's physicists there to meet them.

Sir Mark's papers are kept in the Special Collections section of the University's Barr Smith Library.

 

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