David Bailin obituary

Other lives: Physicist who was ahead of his time

My father, David Bailin, who has died aged 79, was a physicist who was ahead of his time. His best known work was on superconductivity and superfluidity in relativistic fermion systems, inspired by his former Sussex colleague Tony Leggett’s Nobel prizewinning work on superfluid Helium-3. It gained no citations for the first few years, until its importance for neutron stars was understood.

His early research was on the weak interaction – the fundamental force behind certain kinds of radioactivity. He showed that the experimental data at the time required the existence of a heavy W boson particle, which was discovered 20 years later.

David was born in London, the son of William Bailin, a tailor, who worked as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park in the second world war, and his wife, Eva (nee Taylor). He attended Westminster City school, and was the first from his family to go to university.

Gaining a first-class mathematics degree and PhD from Caius College, Cambridge, as a Fulbright scholar he went on to Princeton University in 1964 to further his particle physics research before becoming a young lecturer at Oxford University and finally settling at Sussex University.

He spent 38 happy years at Sussex, rising to chair of physics and astronomy, having met and married Anjali (nee Medhi), a PhD student there, in 1965 following a whirlwind romance. She was the daughter of an Indian freedom fighter who had been imprisoned by the British. David had joined the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the Freedom Summer of 1964, which was his political awakening. Their core beliefs were the tenets of our family.

He continued to study and marvel at the universe through the theoretical particle physics he loved right until the end, while enjoying all the benefits of being a doting grandfather. He loved Mozart, Brighton & Hove Albion FC and chasing cows in fields.

He is survived by Anjali, his sons, Adam and me, four grandchildren and two sisters, Barbara and Diana.

Alex Bailin

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Antony Hewish obituary
Radio astronomer who won the Nobel prize for physics for his role in the discovery of pulsars

Michael Rowan-Robinson

03, Oct, 2021 @4:42 PM

Article image
Arnold Bodmer obituary
Other lives: Physicist who did important work on the behaviours of nuclei

Edward Bodmer

06, Mar, 2020 @8:06 PM

Article image
Benjamin Abeles obituary
Other lives: Renowned physicist whose research led to the technology used to power the Voyager spacecraft

David Abeles

21, Mar, 2021 @7:52 PM

Article image
David Thouless obituary
Nobel prize-winning physicist who challenged accepted thinking in key areas

J Michael Kosterlitz

19, Apr, 2019 @3:57 PM

Article image
Paul McDonald obituary
Other lives: Research physicist who supported protesters against cruise missiles at Greenham Common in the 1980s

Wendell Bailey

29, Sep, 2020 @2:48 PM

Article image
Nigel Weiss obituary
Astrophysicist who studied the interaction between the rotation and magnetic field of the sun behind sunspots and solar flares

Michael Rowan-Robinson

05, Aug, 2020 @4:21 PM

Article image
Frank Barnaby obituary
Radiation physicist at Aldermaston who went on to warn of the dangers posed by the civil and military uses of nuclear energy

Tim Radford

24, Aug, 2020 @3:56 PM

Article image
Mark Warner obituary
Pioneering physicist whose study of elastomers opened up new technology for creating artificial muscles

Tom McLeish

23, Jan, 2022 @3:22 PM

Article image
Letter: Frank Barnaby obituary
David Lowry writes: Frank Barnaby shared his knowledge of nuclear physics and politics with me

David Lowry

16, Sep, 2020 @3:18 PM

Article image
Paul O’Brien obituary
Materials chemist who perfected nanoscientific techniques and enabled important advances in electronics

David Lewis

01, Nov, 2018 @6:04 PM