Klaus Goebel - 1926-2009

Klaus Goebel, an early leading figure in radiation protection at CERN, passed away on 1 October 2009.

Klaus came to CERN in 1956 together with Wolfgang Gentner for whom he had worked as an assistant from 1954-55, after gaining a diploma in economics and a doctorate in physics at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

During these early years at the Laboratory, Klaus measured isotope concentrations in meteorites and as leader of the Spallation Research Group he used the Synchrocyclotron (SC) to measure isotope production by protons. This interest in trace measurements carried over to his work in CERN’s Health Physics Group, which he joined in 1962. He took over successively the radiation protection work at the SC and the Proton Synchrotron as section leader and became deputy group leader. In 1969-70 he spent a sabbatical as a health physicist at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

When Klaus came back to CERN the preparatory work for the construction of the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) was under way and in 1971 John Adams called on him as leader of the Radiation Group to design the SPS Radiation Protection System. It was the first computer-controlled on-line radiation detection and alarm system employed inside the accelerator tunnel (radiation damage protection), in experimental areas (radiation protection of people) and for the site (environmental protection).

With the completion of the SPS in 1976 Klaus took over the responsibility for radiation safety for the whole of CERN, changing the name of the group from Health Physics to Radiation Protection. Increasing awareness of radiation risks called for frequent reviews of procedures and for availability of full information both inside and outside the Laboratory, in particular during the planning of the Large Electron Positron collider, LEP.

Public awareness for radiation issues grew tremendously following the Chernobyl Accident in 1986. In view of his contributions in the field of radiation protection, Klaus was elected President of the Fachverband für Strahlenschutz (The Swiss/German Radiation Protection Society) in 1988 during the critical period following the accident. While working at CERN his expertise in radiation protection matters was frequently requested, for example, for the spallation neutron source project in Karlsruhe and for the radiation protection system for the JET fusion project in Culham, UK.

Klaus leaves behind his wife Elfriede and two children to whom we convey our condolences.

His colleagues and friends

by Horst Wenninger