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[Mix] Alfred Maddock (1917-2009)

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  • From: Frank Berry <f.j.berry AT>
  • To: MIX <mix AT>
  • Subject: [Mix] Alfred Maddock (1917-2009)
  • Date: Fri, 24 Apr 2009 23:39:13 +0200 (CEST)
  • List-archive: <>
  • List-id: Discussion journal of the Mossbauer Community <>

Dr Alfred Maddock

Alfred Maddock, known to his friends and colleagues as Alfie, was born near London in 1917. He was a graduate of The University of London where he studied for his PhD degree with Professor H J Emeleus. From 1939 to 1945 he worked on the atomic energy Tube Alloys Project. His academic career was spent in The University of Cambridge. He had a broad range of scientific interests including the chemistry of the actinide elements particularly plutonium and protactinium, the chemistry associated with nuclear transformation, solvent extraction, radiation of inorganic solids, the chemistry of positronium ions, and Mössbauer spectroscopy. He was one of the pioneers of the chemical applications of Mössbauer spectroscopy in the UK during the 1960's and was a leader in the use of exotic nuclei such as gold, tungsten and iridium for examining structure and bonding in inorganic compounds. He published over 300 papers.

He was consultant to the International Atomic Energy Agency and to atomic energy projects in various countries. He developed very strong links overseas especially in South America. His achievements were recognised by his title of Doctor of Science and Reader in Radiochemistry in The University of Cambridge, Doctor of Science Honoris Causa in University of Louvain Belgium, Gra-Cruz da Ordem Nacional do Merito Cientifico Brazil, and the recipient of the Becquerel Medal of The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Those of us who were privileged to work with Alfie found him to be a most stimulating scientist. He held in his mind what appeared to be an encyclopaedic scientific knowledge which, when coupled with a rare gift of scientific intuition, rendered Alfie an exceptionally imaginative and innovative scientist. Despite these qualities Alfie remained very modest about his scientific achievements.

Apart from his scientific insight which underpinned his relationship with his students and workers Alfie will be remembered as a most warm, generous and wonderful character. He was a real lover of life, especially good food and wine, he and his wife Margaret will be remembered by many of us for many memorable evenings at their home in Cambridge. He and Margaret enjoyed opportunities to travel the world and developed friends and interests across many countries and continents.

Alfie was a most humane person who was held with affection by many people. This was reflected at his retirement when over one hundred former research students, workers and collaborators from all over the world gathered for a weekend in Cambridge to commemorate his career.

Alfie remained active in science after retirement. Regrettably ill health, which he faced with great courage, curtailed many areas of happiness in the last few years of his life yet the author of this article enjoyed a good scientific exchange with Alfie just a couple of months before he died on 5th April 2009, just short of his ninety second birthday.

Alfie Maddock enjoyed a full, rich and varied life in science and with his family and friends. He was an inspired scientist with a love of life and a warm and memorable character which enriched the lives of so many of us who were privileged to have worked with him.

Frank Berry
10th April 2009

  • [Mix] Alfred Maddock (1917-2009), Frank Berry, 04/24/2009

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