Losing Andrew Lange

Jennifer Oullette in Discovery News:

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 24 09.24 Cosmology suffered a great loss yesterday with the passing of Andrew Lange, co-leader of the BOOMERang experiment, which provided the first experimental evidence that our universe is flat, and offered strong support to the supernova evidence for dark energy. Lang was a professor of physics at Caltech, and that tight-knit community is reeling from the news that Lange apparently took his own life. I only met Lange once, but my husband Sean, a Caltech colleague, knew him well and offers his own eulogy (of sorts) over at Cosmic Variance:

It’s hard to convey how unexpected and tragic this news is. Very few people combined Andrew’s brilliance as a scientist with his warmth as a person. He always had a sparkle in his eye, was enthusiastically in love with science and ideas, and was constantly doing his best to make Caltech the best possible place, not just for himself but for everyone else around him. He was one of the good guys. The last I spoke with him, Andrew was energetically raising funds for a new submillimeter telescope, organizing conferences, and helping plan for a new theoretical physics center. We are all walking around in shock, wondering how this could happen and whether we could have done anything to prevent it.

The only way I can think to honor Lange is to tell you a bit more about his most famous work. BOOMERang stands for Balloon Observations Of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation and Geophysics, and it's essentially a balloon-borne telescope designed to make measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation — the “afterglow” of the Big Bang that still pervades our universe. The first flight, in 1997, concentrated on North America, while two subsequent flights in 1998 and 2003 circled the South Pole.

More here.