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Professor Dieter Kind dies

The former President of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt died at the age of 88.

12.06.2018

He significantly penned a very important chapter in the history of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) which stretches back over 130 years. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Kind directed the fortunes of PTB as its President for almost 20 years and – in an extraordinary event during his term of office – he arranged the reunification of PTB with its East German “sister institution”. On Sunday, 10 June 2018, Dieter Kind died at the age of 88 in a hospital in Braunschweig after a brief but severe illness.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Kind, 5.10.1929 – 10.6.2018
(Photo: PTB; date taken: 24 May 2017)

Of the 14 personalities who have to date headed PTB and its forerunner, the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (Imperial Physical Technical Institute), founded in 1887, Dieter Kind stands out because of the length of his term of office (from 1975 to 1995). No President before him or after him has served in this capacity for so long. The truly remarkable thing, however, is the impact that Dieter Kind was able to make for PTB, not only nationally, but also internationally. He was President of the highest body in the world of metrology, the International Committee for Weights and Measures of the Metre Convention.

Dieter Kind studied electrical engineering in Berlin and Munich, he received his doctorate in high-voltage technology, and became a Professor at the (then) Technische Hochschule Braunschweig (Braunschweig Technical College) in 1962, before being appointed as the President of PTB in 1975. With his appointment, an engineer stood at the very head of this essentially physics-oriented institution for the first time. This responsibility was certainly something special for both sides – for the world of engineers and the world of physicists. Dieter Kind mastered this responsibility magnificently, which was reflected in the large number of honors and prizes he was awarded. These included the Grand Cross of Merit of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany which he was given at the end of his term in office.

One of the major challenges he faced during his time as President was for the “long-term management and disposal of radioactive waste” – a field of work which, at that time, was still located at PTB and for which, at the end of the 1980s, a new federal authority of its own, the Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz (Federal Office for Radiation Protection), was established to cope with this difficult subject in the most effective way. The largest challenge, however, was created by German reunification which also had an impact on the world of metrology. This world had also been divided until then – with PTB in Braunschweig and Berlin-Charlottenburg on the one hand and the Office for Standardization and Metrology (ASMW) in Berlin-Friedrichshagen on the other. The successful merging of the metrological departments of the ASMW and its staff with PTB was one of Dieter Kind’s greatest achievements.

With the death of Dieter Kind, PTB and the whole metrological world have lost an untiring spirit, who still looked after the interests of “his PTB” well after he was no longer officially in office and continued to give PTB his support in word and deed.