Massimiliano Ferro-Luzzi (1932 - 2013)

Massimiliano (Max) Ferro-Luzzi, a well-known CERN physicist, passed away on 18 March. He grew up in Asmara (Eritrea) and studied at Rome University, where he joined the nuclear emulsion group of Edoardo Amaldi and graduated in 1955. His research work was an investigation of antiproton reactions in emulsions exposed at Berkeley's Bevatron. Right from the start, as would be typical throughout his career, he combined careful analysis of data with special attention to technical improvements (the automation of track measurement in this case) and better instruments.


Starting in 1960 Max spent three years at Berkeley in Alvarez's legendary group, where he focussed on the role of kaons in strong interactions. In 1963 he moved to CERN, where he spent the rest of his working life, with the exception of a sabbatical year at SLAC in 1976. As one of the leaders in the Track Chamber division, his most important contribution, using data from bubble chambers, was the discovery and study of baryonic resonances, especially the elucidation of hyperon resonances. These impressive results gave valuable experimental input to the quark models.

In the late 1960s he was among the first to realise the need to move to electronic detectors. From 1970 to 1980, putting together a small group of counter and bubble chamber physicists, he continued to measure low-energy hadron elastic scattering by purely electronic means. In those experiments he pioneered new techniques in multiwire proportional chambers and ultraviolet Cherenkov light detection.

Max then turned for a while to weak interactions and neutrinos, first in 1984 with an experiment at the CERN PS, then in 1986 at the AGS (Brookhaven) using Conversi flash tubes. Later, he conducted tests of the first ICARUS prototype. He then became active in the JETSET experiment at LEAR, which started at the beginning of 1989. He joined the DIRAC collaboration in 1995, heading the CERN group that played an important role in setting up and carrying out the experiment. He also acted as project leader in the design and implementation of an ionization hodoscope and trigger. Overall, his active participation in the organisation and his guidance of the first steps of this experiment were extremely fruitful.

He was chairman of the Library Committee for a decade starting in 1979, a member of the PS and SC Committee in 1981, and the scientific secretary of the Research Board from 1984 to 1997. He retired from CERN in 1997.

Intellectually rigorous, yet tempered by a degree of pragmatism in interpreting experiments, Max was a keen advocate of linguistic precision, had a highly individual view of the world and cultivated a scathing sense of humour. Max was remarkable for his friends: his death is a hard loss for them.

His colleagues and friends