Bill Williams

22 April 2020

It is with sadness that the Department of Physics announces the death of Dr William S.C. Williams on 15 April aged 90.

Bill graduated from University College London in 1950 and with a PhD in 1953. A Fulbright Scholarship took him to Stanford for a year and on returning he spent a year at General Electric. In 1955 he was appointed lecturer at the University of Glasgow.

In Glasgow he studied the scattering of photons by carbon using a bremsstrahlung beam from the Glasgow synchrotron. On being appointed to Oxford in 1961, he joined the Spark Chamber Group which at the time was studying proton scattering from carbon using the 150 MeV Harwell synchrocyclotron as a test bed for developing experimental techniques for use with the soon to be operational 7GeV proton synchrotron, Nimrod, at Rutherford Laboratory. When Nimrod became operational in 1964, Bill, with the Oxford group, studied π+p scattering followed by a series of studies of the decays of K+ mesons.

Bill then moved with the Oxford group together with a Rutherford group to CERN to look for CP violating charge asymmetry in charged K-meson decays, again using spark chambers but now with sonic readout.

The European Muon Collaboration (EMC) was formed in 1973 and Bill was the only Oxford participant to sign the original proposal in 1974 for EMC experiments at the CERN SPS. Construction followed until it was operational in 1978 and the Oxford Group remained with the EMC until it ceased data taking in 1985. Data analysis continued until 1993.

Following its closure, EMC had a new life as the New Muon Collaboration and Bill led the Oxford group. This collaboration continued to use the Forward Spectrometer for further studies of deep inelastic scattering in both free nucleons (hydrogen and deuterium) as well as an extensive range of nuclear targets to study the EMC effect.

Bill became a tutorial fellow of St Edmund Hall in 1963 and, in parallel with his teaching, he published three textbooks with later updates. In 1961 An introduction to elementary particles (Academic Press) with a second edition in 1971, which was followed in 1991 by Nuclear and particle physics (OUP) with later updates. After his retirement in 1996 he published Introduction to special relativity (OUP 2002).

Born in 1929 in Margate, Bill is survived by his wife Renee and two children.

Read Teddy Hall remembers Emeritus Fellow Dr Bill Williams.