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James Watson Cronin

Loss in physics

James Cronin, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1980, died at age 84

University of Chicago James Cronin, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1980, died at age 84University of Chicago

American physicist James Watson Cronin, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physics, died August 25, 2016 at age 84. A professor at the University of Chicago, Cronin shared the prize with Val Logsdon Fitch for discovering breaches of fundamental principles of symmetry in the decay of subatomic particles known as K-meson neutrons. Cronin was one of the founders of the Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory, where construction began in 1998 over an area of 3,000 square kilometers in Malargüe, Argentina. Today the observatory brings together about 500 researchers from 16 countries, including Brazil, which contributed to the project by purchasing equipment with support from institutions such as FAPESP and the Brazilian Innovation Agency (FINEP). “Dr. Cronin inspired us all to reach further into the unknown with deep intuition, solid scientific backing and poetic vision,” says Angela Olinto, professor at the University of Chicago, in a statement to The New York Times. In a press release, Ronald Shellard, director of the Brazilian Center for Physics Research (CBPF), says that Cronin was “an inspirational person.” “Whenever he gave lectures, he had the habit of always rubbing one finger against another. Friends knew that this meant that they were supposed to pay attention to what he was about to say,” writes Shellard, who met Cronin at the Pierre Auger Observatory.