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Hintz dies at 93

Norton Hintz
Norton Hintz

Emeritus Professor Norton Hintz died on February 11, 2016. Hintz joined the physics faculty in 1952, where he taught until his retirement in 1992. Over the decades he published some 90 papers on nuclear structure and the interaction of nucleons in the nucleus. He also did research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, NM, Brookhaven, NY, and at the Indiana University cyclotron.

Hintz was born in 1922 in Los Angeles, CA. He earned a two-year photography degree at Los Angeles City College in 1942 and a B.A. in physics at UCLA in 1944. He enlisted in the navy which posted him to an aircraft radar school in Cambridge, MA and then to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. After the war he returned to UCLA for a refresher year in physics before enrolling at Harvard University in 1948. After finishing his Ph.D. in 1951, Norton took a postdoctoral fellowship at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.

When Hintz arrived in Minnesota the following year, the Proton Linac was half built. He worked under Lawrence Johnston, who was in charge of constructing the Linac and John Williams, one of the leaders in the experimental nuclear physics research program at Minnesota. Hintz was involved in making sure the beam stayed in its proper relative phase. After the Linac began operating, he designed a magnetic spectrometer to be used in inelastic scattering experiments on the Linac.

Hintz was recognized by his colleagues as a Renaissance man. In addition to his physics career, he was a founding member of the Center Opera Company which later became the Minnesota Opera Company. On its 50th anniversary in 2012, the Minnesota Opera honored Norton as its founding board president. When once chided for his equal devotion to opera and experimental physics he shot back, "they both require large budgets."

Hintz had a life-long interest in photography and had a knack for capturing his subjects, often well-known physicists, in unreserved moments. In 2012 he worked with Professor Roger Stuewer, of the History of Science and Technology to publish an autobiography in Physics in Perspective, My Life in Nuclear Physics, Photography and Opera. "Norton had a deep love of history, to which he himself contributed by writing a moving article,” Stuewer said.

The Star Tribune has published a feature on Hintz as well as an obituary.