Obituary: Jack E Paton

12 October 2020

Jack Paton headshot

It is with great sadness that the Department of Physics announces the death of Jack Paton on 2 October 2020, aged 82.

Jack did his PhD in Rudolf Peierls’s theoretical physics group at Birmingham under the supervision of Stanley Mandelstam. He graduated in 1962 and moved to Princeton where he was a post-doc for 2 years. Meanwhile, Peierls had become Wykeham Professor in Oxford in 1963 and, after a period at the Rutherford Laboratory, in 1967, Jack moved to Theoretical Physics at the University of Oxford as a Lecturer. He was elected a Student of Christ Church where he taught physics with rigour and clarity, and inspired many to themselves become physicists. In a seminal work with Hong-Mo Chan he showed how to associate charges with the end points of an open string thus creating the Chan-Paton factors which are now ubiquitous in string theory. His work on the Veneziano model subsequently evolved into the flux tube model of hadrons in quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, of which he was a leading exponent.

Professor John Wheater, former Head of Department and colleague comments: ‘The Jack Paton Room in the new Beecroft Building is named after him, and we were very pleased that he was able to attend the opening in 2018. He leaves a remarkable legacy and we are very proud to have worked alongside him. We extend our condolences to his wife Renee, and to his family.’