Remembering founding fathers: Dezső Kiss

News, 15 January 2024

On 15 January, Dezső Kiss was born (15.01.1929 – 24.06.2001). He was the third JINR Director, Academician of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, one of the pioneers of Hungarian experimental nuclear physics and elementary particle physics.

Dezső Kiss graduated from the University of Debrecen (1952). After his graduation, he joined the Central Research Institute for Physics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (KFKI), where he took part in neutron experiments at the reactor. He was a postgraduate student of another outstanding Hungarian physicist Lajos Jánossy. Later, he defended his doctoral dissertation on cosmic ray physics. Dezső Kiss was one of the founders of this largest research institute in Hungary.

In 1960 – 1963, being the head of the group, he continued scientific research at the Laboratory of Neutron Physics JINR. In 1967 – 1969, he was a visiting professor at the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen. In 1975 – 1976, he participated in the preparation of the CHARM neutrino experiment at CERN. In 1976 – 1979, he was appointed a Vice Director of JINR. Afterwards, he held the post of the Deputy Director General of KFKI (1979 – 1989).

In the 1980s, he developed an international project on neutrino physics, which resulted in the Baikal-GVD megascience project. Dezső Kiss together with Tsvetan Vylov founded the Scientific and Experimental Department of Nuclear Spectroscopy and Radiochemistry at the Laboratory of Nuclear Problems JINR, employees of which are currently engaged in the Baikal-GVD project.

In 1989 – 1992, in times of profound changes in Russia, which were difficult for the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dezső Kiss was the JINR Director. At that time, he set the course for the preservation of the intellectual and material potential of the Institute, focusing resources on the most promising areas of scientific research, thereby greatly contributing to the preservation of JINR. “He always enthusiastically and bravely defended the interests of fundamental research and fought with anyone if you felt that physics was suffering. Providing opportunities for international scientific cooperation was also an issue of scientific policy close to him. Moreover, he advocated for the elimination of restricting factors,” that kind of a person he remained in the memories of his compatriots. Later, since 1992, Academician Kiss was JINR Honorary Director, a member of the editorial board of the journal “Physics of Elementary Particles and Atomic Nuclei”.

His research covered experimental particle physics, physics of atomic nuclei, and neutrino physics. Dezső Kiss authored and edited numerous books, including the book “Introduction to experimental particle physics” (jointly with A. L. Luibimov), the book “Neutron Physics” (jointly with P. Kvittner), the book “Experimental Nuclear Physics: University Textbook” (in Hungarian). He gave lectures, wrote many popular science articles on topics close to him, encouraged his colleagues to do the same.

Dezső Kiss received the highest awards of the USSR and the Hungarian People’s Republic for labour achievements. He was also President of the Eotvos Physical Society. He took an active part in scientific policy and was a member of various international scientific organizations.

Hungarian colleagues of Dezső Kiss remembered him as a cheerful person, who “had a kind word for everyone”. He “loved not only people, but also animals, being a great friend with them”. The scientist was one of the founders of the Hungarian National Association for the Protection of Animals. He was also its President for many years.