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  • Particle Physics Pioneer Dies
Dec 2006
ITHACA, N.Y., Dec. 4, 2006 -- Particle physics pioneer Bernard Gittelman, 74, Cornell University professor emeritus of physics, died in Ithaca on Nov. 25, the university reported. The cause of death was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease).

Gittelman was a pioneer in the design and development of storage rings at the Wilson Synchrotron Laboratory at Cornell. He led in the design and construction of the CLEO detector, the multi-university collaboration devoted to exploiting the production and decay of new particles containing heavy quarks from the Cornell Electron Storage Ring.

"Bernie was one of the key reasons why Cornell and the CLEO collaboration led the world in heavy quark physics during the 1980s and 1990s," said friend and colleague Karl Berkelman, Cornell physics professor emeritus.

Gittelman earned his bachelor's degree and PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then worked as a research associate at Princeton University (1958-66) and Stanford University (1966-69), where he collaborated with Nobel laureate Burton Richter and colleagues to construct the first colliding beam device. He joined Cornell's faculty in 1969. In 1987 he was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society "for contributions to the design of storage rings and detectors as well as for contributions to the understanding of the physics of the production and decay of B mesons."

After his retirement, Gittelman continued his involvement with the CLEO research program in spite of his illness. He is survived by his wife, Sandra, and three children.

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