My friend Norbert died yesterday – the 31st July. Norbert was one of the only Germans I have known who actually had a sense of humour – and he really did have a great sense of humour. I can well recall a famous Burns supper where as tradition has it anyone who wants to gets up and recites a poem. Norbert didn’t exactly recite a poem – more a poking fun at his Germanic origins – but he brought the house down and it was typical of the man. Norbert was a fantastic scientist and engineer. I first met him a few years after high Tc superconductivity had been discovered – at that time he was working at Wuppertal where e had been an undergraduate and where he received his PhD. He then joined the national lab at Forschungszentrum Jülich. When he was at Juelich we collaborated on a few EU funded programmes where he made superconducting filters and and we made dielectric resonators and these were combined to make really high quality filters. Norbert took the dielectric resonator work forward when he realised that he could use the shift in resonance of a microwave mode to detect inflammable or explosive liquids and in 2007 he founded a company – Emisens which successfully deployed these devices in airports.
Luckily for us we were able to entice him to Imperial in 2009. Since his arrival at Imperial Norbert has thrown himself into teaching, has been remarkably successful with grant income, has built a superb group some of whom have gone on to form companies of their own but above all, Norbert is characterised by his original thinking. I’d also say that Norbert was one of the friendliest people I have met - - he always had time to chat and he could certainly chat. He could talk about anything from hardcore engineering to dark matter. To Brexit which as a European frankly completely bemused him – and the rest of us.
So it is desperately sad that Norbert died way before he should have but I can absolutely guarantee that he would not have wanted us to feel miserable about it. He had a great sense of fun and enthusiasm and that is how I will remember him.