Remembering Eyvind Hugo Wichmann, 1928-2019

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Eyvind Wichmann, UC Berkeley professor emeritus in physics, passed away peacefully at home on February 16. 

Born in Stockholm, Eyvind grew up in Helsinki, Finland, where he and his future wife, Marianne Paischeff, were schoolmates. They were engaged in 1946 and married in 1951. From a very young age, Eyvind was fascinated by science and how things work, teaching himself about electricity and mechanics from library books, and building small motors and other machines. He attended Finland’s Institute of Technology, graduating with a diploma in physics in 1950.  Shortly after, he received a fellowship to study at Columbia University in New York City, where Marianne soon joined him. He received his Ph.D in 1956, and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton until 1957, when he joined the Physics faculty at UC Berkeley. 

He and Marianne, who was an accomplished artist, settled in Berkeley, where they raised a family and made many life-long friendships. 

Eyvind published numerous papers on theoretical physics, particularly quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics, and wrote the widely-used textbook Quantum Physics, part of the Berkeley Physics Course. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, and a former Sloan Fellow. A dedicated and exacting teacher, Eyvind cared deeply about his many undergraduate and graduate students and advisees, and was a recipient of Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award

After his retirement in 1993, he remained active in his field, teaching occasional courses for many years and then continuing to advise, read papers, and correspond with colleagues around the world. In 1999, a Symposium on Mathematical Physics and Quantum Field Theory was held at UC Berkeley in honor of his 70th birthday. 

Throughout his life, he retained a passionate interest in current developments and unsolved questions of physics and mathematics, and could often be found deep in thought, a clipboard filled with neat equations at his side.

When not thinking about science, Eyvind liked to work with his hands, applying his considerable skill and ingenuity to anything from carpentry and home repairs to delicate machinery. Widely read and a music lover, he also enjoyed hiking and being in nature, still braving a swim in the chilly waters of Tomales Bay at age 90. 

Above all, he was devoted to his family, and loved hearing about their activities and spending time with them.

Eyvind was preceded in death by his cherished wife of 52 years, Marianne. He is survived by his children Mats (Beth) and Sonia, grandchildren Mora, Elina, and Ville, and extended family.  


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