Bernd Dehning (1957 – 2017)

Bernd Dehning (Image: CERN)

We deeply regret to announce the death of Bernd Dehning on 14 January 2017.

Bernd Dehning, who was born on 3 May 1957, worked in the BE department and had been at CERN since 1 Octobre 1987.

The Director-General has sent a message of condolence to his family on behalf of the CERN personnel.

Social Affairs
Human Resources department


Bernd Dehning was known to many of us as “the expert” on beam loss monitoring. One of his glowing achievements was to deliver a remarkably reliable beam loss monitoring system for the Large Hadron Collider, the most complex such system in the world, without which CERN’s flagship machine simply would not work. Providing such a critical machine protection system required a person capable of calm reflection, great attention to detail and thorough preparation. Bernd of course ticked all of these boxes. It is difficult to personify Bernd’s character better than with this citation in the acknowledgements from the book ‘Precision Tests of the Standard Electroweak Model’: “Bernd insisted after 47 hours of tide-watching in the control room, to take the last, decisive point of figure 23”.

Bernd joined CERN as a PhD student from Munich in 1989, working on the LEP polarimeter, supervised by Walter Blum. He became a staff member in the Beam Instrumentation Group in 1992, where he worked for the remainder of his career. He had a remarkably wide field of knowledge spanning not only particle and accelerator physics, but also electronic, software and mechanical engineering. With Bernd this knowledge was never at a superficial level. He had to know the details of everything he was working on and would always dive right down to the fundamentals of any particular area of interest.

Bernd’s contribution to the accurate measurement of the mass and width of the Z and W bosons cannot be overestimated. He was instrumental to the outstanding success of the energy calibration campaigns at LEP, using both the resonant depolarisation and spectrometer techniques, which demonstrated the sensitivity of LEP's beam energy to the orbit of the moon as well as to the departure of TGV trains from Geneva station.

In recent years, in addition to constructing the highly reliable LHC beam loss system, Bernd continued to work on novel beam instrumentation techniques, investigating the use of diamond detectors for loss monitoring and developing a beam gas vertex detector for profile measurements in collaboration with colleagues from several universities and from the LHCb experiment. He really enjoyed leading these efforts in research and development and was always looking for the chance to introduce some cutting-edge technology into these projects.

Happiest when he had a hoard of students around him, Bernd taught many of our current generation of accelerator beam instrumentalists and guided them in the early days of their careers, with numerous others profiting from Bernd’s supervision to go on to find their own niche in industry or academia.

We will remember Bernd as the mild-mannered, methodical professional that he was and our community will be the poorer for his passing.

His CERN friends and colleagues 

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