Top New Zealand scientist Paul Callaghan dies

March 24, 2012

(AP) -- Sir Paul Callaghan, a top New Zealand scientist who gained international recognition for his work in molecular physics, has died after a long battle with bowel cancer. He was 64.

"New Zealand has suffered a tremendous loss," Sir Peter Gluckman, Prime Minister John Key's chief , said in a statement Saturday. "Paul has been our most distinguished public scientist and in the world of molecular physics has been a giant."

Callaghan, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, was best known for his work with , a field that has practical applications in everything from health care to industrial production. He was also known for his work on , which involves studying properties of substances at the scale of the individual atom.

Callaghan won numerous accolades over his career, and was elected a Fellow to the Royal Society of London. In 2009, he was honored with a knighthood and in 2011 was named New Zealander of the Year.

An outspoken public intellectual, Callaghan argued in favor of commercializing science. In 2004, he founded Magritek, a Wellington-based company that used and for industrial and research applications.

Gluckman said Callaghan was able to make science accessible to regular New Zealanders by explaining it in a straightforward and entertaining way, and that he was able to use radio, books and public lectures to promote his view that the country could use science to become a wealthier and better place.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said in a statement that Callaghan earned the respect of everyone, even those who disagreed with him.

"His knowledge and willingness to teach others was an inspiration to not only the science community, but New Zealand as a whole," English said. "He brought a unique combination of brilliance, integrity and courage to public debate."

Callaghan began his studies at Wellington's Victoria University, where he completed a degree in physics, before continuing them at the University of Oxford in England, where he earned a doctorate.

Explore further: Pocket-sized magnetic resonance imaging


Related Stories

Pocket-sized magnetic resonance imaging

July 1, 2008

The term “MRI scan” brings to mind the gigantic, expensive machines that are installed in hospitals. But research scientists have now developed small portable MRI scanners that perform their services in the field: for ...

Recommended for you

Exploring the physics of a chocolate fountain

November 24, 2015

A mathematics student has worked out the secrets of how chocolate behaves in a chocolate fountain, answering the age-old question of why the falling 'curtain' of chocolate surprisingly pulls inwards rather than going straight ...

SLAC theorist explains quantum gravity

November 19, 2015

Our world is ruled by four fundamental forces: the gravitational pull of massive objects, the electromagnetic interaction between electric charges, the strong nuclear interaction holding atomic nuclei together and the weak ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 25, 2012
I'm sorry to hear that. May he rest in peace.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.