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Memorial

Rudolf Paul Thun
Regents' Proceedings 77

The Regents of the University of Michigan acknowledge with profound sadness the death of Rudolf Paul Thun, Ph.D., professor of physics, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Professor Thun died on August 6, 2012.

Professor Thun and his family emigrated to the United States from Dresden, Germany in 1955. He received his A.B. degree from Princeton University in 1965, served as a first lieutenant in the United States Army from 1965-67, and received his Ph.D. degree in physics from Stony Brook University, The State University of New York, in 1971. He joined the University of Michigan faculty as an assistant professor in 1974, and was promoted to associate professor in 1977, and professor in 1982.

Professor Thun participated in experiments at Brookhaven National Lab, CERN, Fermilab, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, which included searches for new particles, studies of high-energy proton-proton, proton-antiproton and electronpositron collisions, and pioneering measurements of Z-boson and top quark properties. More recently, he was involved in the international ATLAS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, which led directly to the recent discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson. His work on ATLAS spanned the design, prototyping, installation, commissioning, and performance assessment for the endcap muon chambers. A consummate physicist, Professor Thun was dedicated to the singular goal of advancing the boundaries of knowledge of the natural world. His intellect, vision, and rigorous approach to the scientific method were matched by his genuine modesty. He believed that scientists were like explorers and should follow the data and push analyses into the unknown, uninhibited by excessive allegiance to speculative hypotheses. A multi-dimensional individual, Thun penned novels and was a painter whose works reflected a high degree of realism, precision, beauty, and creativity. His numerous scientific interests included the nature of binocular vision and the physical basis of consciousness.

As we mourn the loss of our beloved colleague, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Melissa, and their three children.