Car­bon­ear physi­cist Davis Earle dead at 79

Work at On­tario lab­o­ra­tory paved the way for col­league’s No­bel Prize win

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

A physi­cist from Car­bon­ear who played an im­por­tant role in work that even­tu­ally re­sulted in a col­league’s No­bel Prize win has died.

Eric “Davis” Earle was part of a team that cre­ated the Sud­bury Neu­trino Ob­ser­va­tory (SNO), also known as SNOLAB. It was built un­der­ground in an ac­tive mine for sci­en­tists to study par­ti­cles from the sun called neu­tri­nos.

Fol­low­ing a lengthy con­struc­tion process, dur­ing which Earle served as the tech­ni­cal as­so­ciate di­rec­tor, re­searchers col­lected data for 10 years. This work led to the dis­cov­ery of why neu­tri­nos do not ap­pear on the sun’s sur­face and es­tab­lished the ex­is­tence of three kinds of neu­tri­nos.

Earle died on Christ­mas Eve in Deep River, Ont. SNOLAB ac­knowl­edged Earle’s death in a post on its web­site ear­lier this month, rec­og­niz­ing him as a “cher­ished col­league and found­ing mem­ber” of the team.

“Davis worked tire­lessly for the suc­cess of SNO. His physics per­spec­tive, tech­ni­cal abil­ity and match­less hu­mour con­trib­uted not only to our sci­en­tific suc­cess but also to our suc­cess as a col­lab­o­ra­tion,” said SNOLAB di­rec­tor Art McDon­ald, who was awarded the No­bel Prize for physics in 2015.

Earle spoke with The Telegram fol­low­ing the No­bel Prize vic­tory.

“My head swelled up,” he said at the time from his home in On- tario. “We all know that this was a team ef­fort.”

Davis was the son of Guy Earle, the last cap­tain of the S.S. Kyle.

“My fa­ther tried to get me to join him in the cod­fish busi­ness in Car­bon­ear, but I didn’t want to go work with my fa­ther at 20. I thought I needed to see a bit of Canada,” he told The Telegram.

He stud­ied physics at Memo­rial Univer­sity be­fore ob­tain­ing a mas­ters of sci­ence de­gree in Bri­tish Columbia. He was awarded a Rhodes Schol­ar­ship in 1959 and com­pleted his doc­tor­ate stud­ies at Ox­ford in 1964. MUN pre­sented him with an honorary doc­tor­ate of sci­ence de­gree in 2004.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SNOLAB

Davis, sec­ond from the right, works with the SNO crew.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Davis Earle re­ceives an honorary doc­tor of sci­ence de­gree from Memo­rial Univer­sity in 2004.

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