On November 1, three distinguished faculty members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa were among the victims of a murderous assault.
Each of these individuals was at the height of his professional career. Each was devoted to teaching and advising students at all academic levels ranging from undergraduate freshmen to doctoral candidates and postdoctoral associates. Each was of national and international stature. All were specializing in the study of complex properties of ionized gases or plasma, the so-called fourth state of matter. This field is known technically as theoretical plasma physics. It is estimated that over 99% of matter in the universe is in the form of plasma—hence its central importance in the upper atmospheres and magnetospheres of planets, the Sun, the interplanetary medium, and in almost all large astrophysical systems.