In Memoriam: Bleser, Edward J.

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Posted: January 3, 2011

Edward Bleser, who joined the Physics Department as a research associate on June 24, 1963, and retired as a BNL physicist on July 31, 1999, died at 74 on March 18, 2010. He had been named an assistant physicist in 1965, then left the Lab in June 1968, becoming a guest scientist from July 1968 until June 1970. During that time, he joined Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He returned to BNLís Magnet Division on February 6, 1978, as a physicist, and he was made Magnet Division Head in 1980. After his retirement, he continued as a guest physicist for a year until September 30, 2000.

R. Ronald Rau, retired from BNLís Physics Department, contributed the following remarks about Edward Bleser:

In 1963, Edward J. Bleser received a Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University and was first employed at Brookhaven Laboratory when he joined the G. B. Collins experimental group working at the new 30 Gev Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS), a proton accelerator. The main thrust of the group was examining proton and pion spectra from Proton-proton interactions at 10, 20 and 30 Gev. In 1968, Edward moved to Fermi Lab. He joined with Dr. Thomas Ferbel, of the University of Rochester, and Dr. Jerry Rosen, of Northwestern University, to study several processes, two of which were the study of coherent dissociation of neutrons and the search for new particles.

In 1978, Brookhaven National Laboratory asked Edward to return and join the new Isabelle collider project whose goal was to produce an accelerator that would collide two counter rotating proton beams each at 400 Gev. He accepted this offer and joined the group whose purpose was to make very accurate measurements of the details of the magnetic fields of the collider magnets. He worked with Erich Willen and John Herrera, and together they designed a much more accurate system to measure the magnetic fields.

In 1980, Edward was made head of the Isabelle Magnet Division, with the mission of constructing the superconducting magnets for Isabelle. Unfortunately, this project was held up by technical problems with the design of the superconducting magnets, and was subsequently cancelled. Fortunately, the new magnetic field measurement system was important for later work at the Laboratory.

Edward was a quiet man who preferred to work with a group of colleagues who knew each otherís abilities. In this manner, he quietly helped the Laboratory in many important ways, both in its hour of greatest need and in calmer days where his technical ability and contributions allowed progress in overcoming difficult challenges. The Lab was fortunate to have had this astute collegial physicist on its staff.

Peter Wanderer, who heads BNLís Superconducting Magnet Division, wrote:

Ed Bleser was head of the Magnet Division during the most difficult stage of R&D on high field superconducting magnets for the Isabelle proton-proton collider. Bleser inherited a magnet design that was able to achieve the initial goal of 4 Teslas magnetic field. When the design of Isabelle was changed to increase the collision energy, the magnetic field requirement was increased to 5 Teslas. One magnet reached this field, but others did not. To tackle this problem, Bleser set up a committee of magnet experts to review and advise on the magnet R&D and persuaded others to join the Magnet Division to help with the effort. The group Bleser put in place gained considerable experience with the manufacture of superconducting magnets, even though the specific magnet design was not adopted. The experience was put to good use in the production phase of the RHIC magnets, which have proven to be extremely reliable during the ten years of RHIC operation.

Derek Lowenstein, former Collider-Accelerator Department Chair, wrote:

Although Ed retired just as RHIC was turning on, his contributions to machine operations lives on. Without his dedication to the design and construction of the RHIC magnets, the nuclear physics program could not have succeeded. His gentle and reserved approach to tackling the trials and tribulations of building RHIC will always be appreciated by his former colleagues. Ed will be missed.

Obituary from the Bleser family:

Edward Johnson Bleser, of Bellport, NY, died on March 18, 2010. Dr. Bleser was a physicist who worked on the design and development of particle accelerators at two national laboratories.

The son of Edward M. and Lillian Bleser, he was born in New York City, on June 11, 1935. He grew up in Middlebury, CT, attended the nearby Taft School. He also attained the rank of Eagle Scout. A 1957 graduate of Amherst College, he received a Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University in 1963. He was first employed at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island from 1963 to 1968, and then moved to Fermi National Laboratory in Illinois. In 1978, he returned to Brookhaven National Laboratory until his retirement in 2000. During his tenure at the laboratories, Dr. Bleser collaborated on a number of high-energy physics projects.

Dr. Bleser, a Bellport resident for more than thirty years, was active in village. He served as Secretary of the Bellport Historical Preservation Commission from its inception until his death, and was involved in generating the Historic Preservation Guidelines to ensure the preservation of Bellportís many historic homes. He was also active in the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society. Dr. Bleser was an avid reader and lover of history who never met a book he did not befriend.

He is survived by his beloved wife of forty-five years, Dr. Carol K. Bleser. He is also survived by his son Gerald Rothrock and daughter-in-law Elizabeth of McLean, VA, and his adored granddaughter, Caroline. He is predeceased by his only sibling, Warren, who died in a climbing accident on the Matterhorn many years ago.

 

Last Modified: January 3, 2011