Mikko Paalanen, chairman of the Selection Committee
Prize Ceremony in the House of Estates
Honored Chairman of the Academy, dear Members, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Academician Olli V. Lounasmaa passed away on December 27, 2002 at the age of 72. He was internationally one of the most celebrated Finnish scientists. In Finland we also remember him as a colorful reformer of research practices and science policy.
Many of us attended the memorial service organized in this very room about one and a half years ago. Among the speakers was Paavo Uronen, then the Rector of Helsinki University of Technology. In his memorial speech, Rector Uronen suggested that our academic community and especially the Helsinki University of Technology should honor Olli Lounasmaa by promoting his name on some visible and long lasting way. The task was given to the LTL, which Olli had founded and managed successfully for 35 years.
After discussing this proposal with Olli's family and with some of his former colleagues we decided to establish an international prize carrying his name - Olli V. Lounasmaa Memorial Prize. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Lounasmaa family for the permission to use its name in this connection.
For Olli Lounasmaa, the ultra low temperature physics and its applications, especially in brain research, were close to his heart. In these research areas he obtained his international fame and reputation. Therefore it was clear for us from very beginning that the Memorial Prize should be given out to a scientist with significant contributions in the area of low temperature physics and its applications, including the imaging of human brain.
The first Olli V. Lounasmaa Prize has been awarded to Professor John Clarke from University of California, Berkeley campus, for his contributions over nearly 40 years in the development and characterization of SQUIDs, superconducting quantum interference devices, and in developing their applications. SQUIDs are very sensitive magnetometers, devices to measure very small magnetic fields. They are used for example in noninvasive detection of the tiny magnetic signals produced by human brain. The SQUID sensor is the corner stone of the brain research of the Low Temperature Laboratory.
John Clarke was born in 1942 in Cambridge England. In 1964 he started his graduate studies in the research group of Professor John Pippard. His first assignment was to build an ultra sensitive voltmeter based on Josephson junctions. Within one month he managed to make the first working JJ in England, which was quite an accomplishment for a 22-year-old starting student. My guess is that early success changed John's life and he became addicted to this area of science. John earned his PhD in 1968 from University of Cambridge. On the following year, at the age of 27, University of California hired him as an assistant professor, and he has been working there until today. In 40 years he has published nearly 400 scientific articles in the area of superconductivity. The title of his first paper from year 1965 reads "A superconducting Galvanometer Employing Josephson Tunneling" and the title of his 376th paper from this year is "Detection of bacteria in Suspension by Using a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device". Between these two publications there are numerous important contributions in the applications of SQUIDs as sensitive sensors in biological and geophysical measurements, in material testing, in cosmology and recently in magnetic imaging and in quantum computing.
John Clarke has won numerous international recognition. I just want to mention two of them, the most important ones. Since 1986 he has been the Fellow of Royal Society, He is also the 1987 recipient of Fritz London Award. It has been said that an academic prize is as great as its recipients are. John Clarke is an excellent choice for the first OVL Memorial Prize.
At this point I would like to thank Helsinki University of Tehnology, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and Finnish Cultural Foundation for financial support and for Finnish Academy of Science and Letters for including this Prize ceremony in their monthly program.