Editor’s note: Yury Kolomensky, UC Berkeley, and Rashid Djilkibaev, INR, translated the following from the original Russian obituary.
World-renowned physicist Vladimir Mikhailovich Lobashev, 77, died on Aug. 3. He made outstanding contributions to nuclear and particle physics.
Professor Lobashev made seminal contributions to the measurements of parity and CP violation, to neutron and neutrino physics and to medium-energy nuclear physics. He first discovered and then made precise measurements of a previously unseen effect in quantum electrodynamics – rotation of the polarization plane of photons propagating through a polarized electron medium.
His measurements of several small parity-violating effects in nuclear reactions with polarized thermal neutrons were instrumental in establishing the universality of weak interactions. He led the groups that made some of the most precise measurements of the neutron electric dipole moment and neutron lifetime and set stringent constraints on the mass of the electron neutrino.
In the late 1950s, Lobashev dedicated his early scientific career to fundamental neutron physics at the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It was there that he proposed a novel method of dealing with ultra-cold neutrons and obtained a limit on the neutron electric dipole moment, which was the best in the world at the time.
In 1972, he moved to the Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Troitsk. During this time, Lobashev played a major role in designing the complex housing the intense beams of the Moscow Meson Factory.
He devoted his last years to the experiment Troitsk-NM, the precise measurement of the end-point spectrum in tritium beta decay. Troitsk-NM, together with a similar experiment at Mainz, set the best upper limit on the mass of the electron neutrino.
Lobashev was a co-inventor of the concept for the Mu2e experiment which will take place at Fermilab. He proposed a novel technique to capture muons at high-energy physics accelerators using graded magnetic solenoids and to produce intense muon beams. The applications of this technique may extend beyond Mu2e to the future designs of a high-energy muon collider.
Lobashev will always be remembered by numerous students and colleagues as a dedicated servant to science. He was highly respected by the scientific community in Russia and abroad. Lobashev was a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Lenin Prize (USSR, 1974) for the discovery of parity violation in nuclear forces, the Bruno Pontecorvo prize (JINR, Dubna, 1998) for his outstanding contributions to weak interaction physics, the Markov prize (INR, Moscow, 2004) for the measurements of the neutrino mass and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Researcher Award.
Russian science has lost a great man. We send our deepest condolences to the friends and relatives of Lobashev.
Learn more about Lobashev’s career here.