In Memoriam: Dr Godfrey 'George' Heyland
1 March 2012
George Heyland, who died on 6 February 2012 aged 89, was one of the longest serving members of the Physics and Astronomy Department at UCL.
He was a pupil at
University College School in Hampstead, from where he won a scholarship to
study physics at UCL. After graduation in 1942 he became a temporary assistant lecturer
in the Physics Department (as it then was) while the Department was still
located in Bangor, North Wales, to where it had been evacuated during the
Second World War. He was subsequently appointed to a lectureship and later promoted
to a senior lectureship. Geoge remained at UCL until his retirement in 1987.
expert in electronics, he was for many years in charge of the Third Year
Undergraduate Physics Laboratory. In 1968, at the instigation of Sir Harrie
Massey, he joined Ceiri Griffith in establishing the experimental Positron
Physics research group. The partnership proved to be extremely fruitful and led to the
development of the first low energy mono-energetic positron beam, the primary
source of the positrons being the β+-emitting radio-active isotope 22Na.
This beam was used to investigate positron scattering from a variety of atomic
and molecular targets and yielded the first accurate measurements of total
scattering cross sections for positrons. At the same time, detailed
investigations were made of the lifetime
spectra of positrons slowing down and annihilating in various gases.
George Heyland remained an active member of the group for many years, publishing numerous research papers with Ceiri Griffith and a succession of research students including Paul Coleman and Mike Charlton. The scientific legacy of George Heyland and Ceiri Griffith is the continuing research of the Positron Physics group, now led by Gaetana Laricchia, into ever more detailed investigations of positron and positronium scattering. George will continue to be remembered fondly by all his friends and colleagues.