Héctor Vucetich




Héctor Vucetich passed away on March 31 2023 in the city of La Plata. He was born in the same city on March 4 1940. With him, a physicist, a teacher, a writer, a mentor, a friend, and a man with a unique and endearing personality has gone. Héctor received his doctorate from the National University of La Plata in 1967. That house of studies, of which he would become a professor in 1979, would be inextricably linked to his life. There he worked on nuclear physics first, and then on gravitation and cosmology. There he trained generations of students with his classes on electrodynamics, relativity, and cosmology. His investigations followed his curiosity, which was endless, and not fashion. He contributed to hadron physics, to the study of neutron stars, to the evaluation of the possible variations of the fundamental constants of Nature, to Lorentz invariance, to the foundations of physics. He published about 170 articles/works and supervised the doctoral thesis of about 20 students, including myself.

Those of us who knew him will remember a man who somehow managed to preserve an invulnerable innocence until the end. His sense of humor could pass all the tests. Perhaps an anecdote will suffice to show it. Héctor was always fond of letters, and wrote tirelessly throughout his life, both stories and essays. I used to point out maliciously that one of his stories, "The Whistling of the Wind at the Window," was the worst literary work ever written. He energetically protested against my arbitrariness and pointed out to me that St. Irenaeus of Lyons mentions the existence of a text attributed (perhaps unfairly) to certain followers of Valentinus, a text so atrocious that whoever reads it would immediately go blind. He added that the fact that I could observe him was clear proof that his own work was, at best, the second worst ever written.

Those who knew him can abound in all kinds of extraordinary anecdotes. Some 35 years ago he convinced me to embark on the study of ancient Greek together. For a few months we attended private classes given by the professor of classical philology at the University of La Plata. After not long, as was to be expected, I gave up, overwhelmed by Plato's texts. He went on, unscathed, to finally decipher the darkest fragments of the Presocratic. That perseverance he put in all things. His memory was astonishing, perhaps only comparable to that of Ireneo Funes: he could cite any theorem from Gelfand and Shilov's vast book Generalized Functions as well as any proposition from Spinoza's Ethics. He was the only near-universal man I have ever known.

Now, when I say goodbye, I understand that without our knowing it, he worked on us in silence, through his example, to leave us a little better than what he found us. Written by Gustavo E. Romero

The rememberance of Héctor Vucetich will remain in our memory, with the respect he generated in life.

See also (in Spanish): https://www.fisica.org.ar/2023/04/14/fallecimiento-del-dr-hector-vucetich/

Past affiliation(s) within the IAU

  • Past Member of Division D High Energy Phenomena and Fundamental Physics (until 2023)
  • Past Member of Division E Sun and Heliosphere (until 2023)
  • Past Member of Division J Galaxies and Cosmology (until 2023)
  • Past Member of Commission 49 Interplanetary Plasma & Heliosphere (until 2015)
  • Past Member of Division II Sun & Heliosphere (until 2012)

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