Clarence Max Fowler
November 26, 1918 - February 27, 2006
Last place of employment:
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, NM, US
Published on 17 March 2006
Clarence "Max" Fowler, hailed as the U.S. pioneer in explosive-driven magnetic-flux compression and ultra-high magnetic field research, died 27 February, 2006 at his home, after a brief struggle with cancer. He was 87.
Max Fowler was to US ultra-high magnetic field research what Andrei Sakharov was to Russian research in that area. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Max was born in Centralia, Ill., and joined the Los Alamos laboratory as a fulltime staff member in August 1957. He originally worked there on a limited basis between 1952 and 1956.
At Los Alamos, Max led the way in developing and applying explosive-driven flux compression generators. For more than 50 years, he and his colleagues utilized this technique to power a number of different plasma producing devices, lasers, imploding foils, e-beam accelerators and rail guns. Max also used these generators to study the properties of materials in ultra-high magnetic fields, including high-temperature superconductors. His team made many investigations of material behavior in ultra-high magnetic fields and this work played a role in the selection of the Florida State/Florida/Los Alamos Consortium to develop the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. His bibliography consists of more than 250 papers, dating from when he published his first journal article in 1946.
Max was also a founder of the International Megagauss conferences. Starting in Frascati, Italy, in 1965, the Megagauss conferences have been the setting for international discussion in ultra-high magnetic field generation and applications. Max and his team co-authored the first paper presented at the Frascati conference and thus the first paper published in the Megagauss series. He and his wife, Janet, attended all nine Megagauss conferences since then.
Such was his reputation, that he was the honored guest wherever he traveled, be it to Russia, China, Korea, Africa, Europe, or the USA. He had a keen sense of humor, so he gained great pleasure and amusement when, at the last Megagauss-X conference (2004, Berlin), he was declared the Honory Chairman!
Apart from his significant scientific achievements, Max had the gift of making good friends with whomever he met. His many friendships include one with Dr. Gennady Shvetsov of the Lavrentyev Instiute of Hydrodynamics, Novosibirsk, Russia that, in turn, led to friendships with many other Russian scientists, most notably Dr. Alexander Pavlovskii and Dr. Vladimir Chernyshev at the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute Of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF) in Arzamas-16, Russia. The friendships facilitated the now well-known lab-to-lab collaboration that was established between the Los Alamos and Arzamas the Russian Los Alamos, now called Sarov. This partnership also led to the towns of Sarov and Los Alamos becoming international sister cities.
Max was a long time Fellow of the American Physical Society and was a Los Alamos National Laboratory Senior Fellow. He held a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois, a Master's, and a Doctorate in physics from the University of Michigan. Max also received an honorary doctorate from Novosibirsk State University in Russia for his work in high energy density physics and for furthering scientific relations between the United States and Russia.
Max retired around 1996, but you would never know it. He was typically in his office five days a week, year in and year out, right up to the end of last year. He even came in on Saturdays.
Los Alamos has lost a great scientist, a true gentleman, and a dear friend. He is survived by his wife, Janet; a daughter Mary Janet, of Charlottesville, VA.; a brother, Bert, and sister-in-law, Catherine, of Sudbury, MA; a sister, Marianna of Bardolph, IL; and two nieces.
Los Alamos National Laboratory