The Czech media brought us some very sad news. After a long disease, Prof Jiří Niederle died at the age of 71. Some time ago, he was still the chief of the theory section of the HEP department of the Physical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
As an undergrad, I attended a great course on group theory that he taught. He would sometimes tell us some stories from his scientific life, too.
Clearly, he has traveled a lot and he was one of the few people who imagined institutionalized science in the old Western way and who were considered genuine peers by some Western colleagues. By the way, the exam took place in a very fancy office of the Academy of Sciences across the National Theater in Prague: at that time, Niederle presided over the international section of the Academy.
When I was defending my master (well, magister) degree in 1997, he was the referee on my committee.
Although he only read my thesis during the night before the thesis - because of an administrative glitch - he was the only member of the committee who actually had a clue about the content - and surely about the opinions of the leaders of the field about my papers. And let me mention that in the previous sentence, I have not forgotten about my friendly adviser who used the defense to begin to understand what supersymmetry could mean. Niederle has written many papers about it.
When the LHC was getting started two years ago, I noticed that he was a key member of the Czech delegation and his health looked worrisome. I am afraid that Czech physics loses not only an experienced, educated, and sensitive scientist but also a key player who had a chance to bring it closer to the world. Unfortunately, almost all the other "leaders" of the discipline in Czechia whom I know belong elsewhere.
Via Olda K.