Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Deceased--Andrew Lange

Andrew Lange
July 23rd, 1957 to January 22nd, 2010

"Andrew Lange, noted universe researcher at Caltech, dies"


Janette Williams

January 25th, 2010

Pasadena Star-News

Andrew E. Lange, Goldberger Professor of Physics at Caltech and a preeminent cosmologist of his generation, has died. He was 53.

Caltech President Jean Lou Chameau reported the Jan. 22 death to the institute's community with "great sadness and regret" and said it appeared Lange had taken his own life.

"Andrew was such a well-known, well-respected and well-liked member of our community that many of us will be deeply affected," Chameau said in a letter. "We know this tragic news will come as a shock to everyone - faculty, staff, and students alike, even those of you who knew that Andrew had been struggling with personal issues."

Lange, who came to Caltech in 1993, was named chairman of the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy in 2008. He had recently resigned from the position, Caltech officials said.

Chameau called Lange "a truly great physicist and astronomer who had made seminal discoveries in observational cosmology."

"He was the best possible scientist and person," Professor Marc Kamionkowski , a 10-year department colleague, said Monday. Lange's death, he said, had left everyone shocked and confused.

Calling him preeminent in his field "is, if anything, an understatement," Kamionkowski said.

"He was one of the most important people, or possibly the most important, in the field of cosmology," he said.

Lange's work advanced science in many different ways, he said.

"Progress in our field takes...many different people with different talents. Andrew was one of the few people with almost all the talents in one place," Kamionkowski said. "He was an outstanding mentor, his track record with students and post-docs is amazing. Many of them are leading scientists in their own rights now."

Most of all, Kamionkowski said, Lange was devoted to his three sons, ages 12, 14 and 20.

"He loved them more than anything in the world," he said. "Although he did all those incredible things in science, so many accomplishments, they were the one thing he was most proud of."

Lange, who lived in La Ca ada Flintridge, had been at Caltech since 1993. He arrived as a visiting associate before being appointed a full professor in 1994. In 2001 he was named the Goldberger Professor and in 2006 was named a senior research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Born July 23, 1957, in Urbana, Ill., Lange graduated from Princeton University in 1980 and received his doctorate degree from UC Berkeley in 1987.

His primary research focus was on the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), a gas of thermal radiation left over from the Big Bang, that filled the entire universe. Caltech officials said he is perhaps best known for co-leading the BOOMERanG experiment, the first to determine that the spatial geometry of the universe is flat.

The data also led to precise measurement of the age of the universe and the abundance of the dark matter known to hold galaxies together, officials said. The findings also supported earlier measurements that suggested the cosmos is actually expanding faster, implying either a violation of Einstein's theory of general relativity, or that the universe is filled with "dark energy" they called "some exotic new negative-pressure fluid."

Lange was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Physical Society. Lange and Dr. Saul Perlmutter of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory were jointly named the 2003 California Scientist of the Year for their seminal contributions to cosmology.

In addition to his sons, Lange's survivors include his sister, Karen Lange and brother Adam Lange.

Kamionkowski said funeral arrangements are pending, and that plans are being made for memorial services.

"There are already efforts in the science community to put together memorial sessions and meetings in the world of science outside Caltech," he said.

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