Mourning for Gottfried Münzenberg


GSI and FAIR mourn the loss of an outstanding scientist and pioneer of nuclear physics who shaped nuclear physics research at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung for decades. The former GSI division head Professor Dr. Gottfried Münzenberg passed away on January 2, 2024 at the age of 83.

Gottfried Münzenberg had a major influence on various areas of modern nuclear physics and leaves behind a significant scientific legacy. His diversified research work ranged from the study of exotic, very light nuclei to super-heavy nuclei, touching on both fundamental physical questions and practical applications. He laid important foundations for the extension of the GSI facilities, shaped the scientific program at the Super-FRS, contributed to the design of the new apparatus and initiated the founding of the NUSTAR collaboration at FAIR.

During his time at GSI, he made decisive contributions to the discovery of superheavy elements and played a leading role in the design and construction of the SHIP velocity filter at Justus Liebig University in Giessen. He was head of the SHIP experiment group for the synthesis of the new chemical elements bohrium, hassium and meitnerium and, as a member of the discovery team, was closely involved in the synthesis of the elements darmstadtium, roentgenium and copernicium. Münzenberg was also co-discoverer of the double magic nuclei tin-100 and nickel-78 as well as the proton halo in boron-8. Furthermore, his scientific commitment led to the discovery of over 220 new isotopes and more than 350 new mass measurements of various isotopes.

Gottfried Münzenberg gained worldwide international reputation as Professor of Experimental Physics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and head of the Nuclear Structure and Nuclear Chemistry departments at GSI. He initiated and fostered numerous international collaborations and was passionately committed to the promotion of young scientists.

For his outstanding scientific achievements, Gottfried Münzenberg has received many high-ranking awards and honors, including the Röntgen Prize of the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, the Physics Prize of the German Physical Society, the Otto Hahn Prize of the City of Frankfurt, the Gold Medal of the Comenius University in Bratislava, the SUNAMCO Medal of the IUPAP, the Lise Meitner Prize of the European Physical Society and the Medal of Honor of the Hellenic Nuclear Physics Society.

GSI and FAIR will always remember Gottfried Münzenberg as an outstanding scientist, a valued source of inspiration, and above all as a great person full of warmth and with an incomparable sense of witty humor. His colleagues and friends will keep his wisdom, kindness and friendship in lasting memory. The management of GSI/FAIR extends its deepest condolences to his family.