The University of Utah
Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah

James S. Ball (1934-2013)

Jim Ball

Prof. Jim Ball (Emeritus) passed away peacefully on Monday evening, July 29, 2013. Jim received his undergraduate degree from Caltech in 1956 and his Ph.D from UC Berkeley in 1960. After a postdoctoral appointment at UCSD and a professorship at UCLA , Jim joined the Physics Department at the University of Utah in 1968 as an associate professor, and was promoted to the rank of Full professor in 1972.

Jim worked in the field of theoretical particle physics with an emphasis on understanding of the strong interactions, and reconciling theoretical models of the strong interaction with experimental observations at accelerators. In recognition of this work, Jim as an A.P. Sloan Fellow in the 1960’s. Jim was also elected Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1995 in recognition of his pioneering work in the theory of the strong force. Jim retired from the department in 1997 and spent a good deal of his retirement with his wife Janet a beautiful mountain home he built near Torrey, Utah.

Jim was an active force in the growth of the size and scope of the Department in the 1970’s through the late-1990’s, and successfully helped to grow the national prominence of the Department through many initiatives. He served as associate department chair He worked with Prof. Gene Loh and several other faculty members on the State of Utah bid to build the DOE Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) near the Cedar/Grassy Mountains in Western Utah’s Salt Lake Desert. He led the 1987 APS Division of Particles and Fields (DPF) meeting in Salt Lake City in January 1987, and established a long term friendship with the Aspen Center for Physics and with particle theorist David Schramm (U Chicago), who used to visit the department every winter for several weeks of collaboration and skiing. Jim was an avid skier and many people spent some wonderful weekends together with him and his colleagues on the slopes of the Wasatch Front.

His obituary is available here.


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