The following first appeared in the In Memoriam webpages of the Development and Alumni Office of the University of Sussex, and is re-published here by kind permission.
I first met Roger Blin-Stoyle when he was a young theoretical physicist working in Oxford in the late 1950s trying to understand how topics such as spin and weak interactions influenced the structure and behaviour of atomic nuclei. I was trying to measure the spins and magnetic moments of radioactive nuclei in Cambridge and I found it very helpful to visit Roger and discuss which nuclear spins, if measured, would have the most influence on the development of our understanding of nuclear structure.
I was very surprised, but delighted, when Professor N. F. Mott, the head of the Cavendish Laboratory, came to see me and suggested that I might like to apply for a post to set up an experimental physics group in the new University of Sussex where Roger intended to apply for the post of Dean of the School of Physical Sciences. The university had already opened with 50 arts students being taught in several houses in Brighton. We applied for the posts and by the end of 1961 were already attending Senate meetings with some ten arts faculty and had started to investigate the Physics building, already under construction, and worry the architects to make modifications to the plans to fit in better with our plans.
Roger played an immense part in these early days of the university. The arts faculty assumed that the School of Physical Sciences would have exactly the same format as the arts Schools but this was not possible when all the students would be spending many hours per week in laboratories. The heads of Chemistry and Mathematics appointed early in 1962 set about appointing faculty and the School opened in the Physics building (now Pevensey I) in October with 150 students. By that time Roger had convinced Senate that four to six science students should be present in tutorials instead of one and had proposed an Arts-Science programme involving joint teaching for second year Arts and Science students. Roger seemed to enjoy very much his teaching of the first year courses as much as the lectures he gave to the physics graduate students, most of whom were already supervised by the newly appointed faculty and had come with them.
Roger remained very active and successful as a fundamental particle theorist, published more than one hundred papers and a book on the theory of nuclear moments, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976. At the same he contributed to the planning of the way the other science Schools, Biology and Engineering, might develop. The School of Physical Sciences split to form Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MAPS) and Molecular Sciences (MOLS), and Roger continued as Dean of MAPS. MAPS grew rapidly and within a few years Roger began to investigate the possibility of starting both theoretical and experimental astronomy in collaboration with the Astronomer Royal, Sir Richard Woolley, and other staff at Herstmonceux, an observatory some twenty miles from the university. Roger was convinced that fundamental particles would play a large part in the future development of astronomy and this certainly turned out to be the case. The theoretical astronomy group was formed, it grew rapidly and has been very successful but we were unable to start a workable group of experimentalists.
Roger also did much more than a reasonable share as a university administrator by becoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Science), Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Acting Vice-Chancellor for several months while Asa Briggs was ill. He survived a period of sit-ins with significant disruption and decided he didn't want to become a vice chancellor but he was very good at coping with the problems in a sympathetic manner while he was in office.
I shall always remember Roger Blin-Stoyle as an excellent pianist and organist who enjoyed a very happy life with his family and played a very important part in the development of what was the first of the New Universities created in this country after the Second World War.
Ken Smith, Emeritus Professor of Physics
Douglas Brewer, Emeritus Professor of Physics, contributes the following addendum to his obituary in the Independent:
It might well be supposed that with such a programme of activities he would have little time for anything else. On the contrary, he led a happy family life, taking holidays at home and abroad by tent or caravan with his wife Audrey and their two children. He greatly enjoyed entertaining students and friends at home, where in the early days he would dance 'the twist' along with the rest of them. He was an accomplished pianist and organist. He used to play the organ in the Meeting House at lunch times; indeed the existence of the organ there is said to be due to his considerable persuasive powers.
(Douglas's obituary appeared in the Independent on 15 February 2007. Another obituary appeared in the Guardian on 20 February 2007, by Sir Denys Wilkinson, former Vice-Chancellor.)
Webpage maintained by Charles Goldie for the Suss-Ex Club, the association for ex-staff of the University of Sussex.