Vale Terry Edwards ~ 4th October 1945 – 25th March 2018

Terry Edwards at Boulder in 2012

Terry at his favourite conference in 2012, the Symposium on Thermophysical Properties, held in Boulder Colorado.
Image Credit: Roland Span

Associate Professor Terence John Edwards passed away on Sunday March 25, 2018 in his apartment which overlooks Scarborough beach. At his funeral on April 4th, the tremendous influence Terry had on so many people over the course of his life was abundantly clear. Through a career in science and engineering, Terry made major contributions to the advancement of fundamental knowledge, the development of new capabilities for industrial research and, perhaps most importantly, to the education and training of countless individuals who were fortunate enough to experience his unique, highly effective teaching style. One part of Terry’s legacy was the establishment in Western Australia of a research capability in oil and gas from scratch: this includes the Fluid Science & Resources group, which grew from foundations laid by Terry prior to his retirement from the University of Western Australia in 2006. The messages, stories and photographs below pay tribute to the remarkable, and unforgettable, Terry Edwards.

Carolyn Koh and E. Dendy Sloan, Colorado School of Mines

Our sincere condolences to Terry Edwards family. It was a great delight and honor to get to meet with Terry when he visited Golden a few years ago and I met up with him in Perth. He was an exceptionally talented scientist and a very kind and cheerful special person. He will be greatly missed.

Shunsuke Sakurai, UWA

I will miss him. The news surprised me, and I feel sorry now. I really thank him for giving a chance to go to Perth, and hope he rests in peace.

Tomoya Nonoue, JOGMEC

I am honored to have known such a great person. We will truly miss him. May his soul rest in peace.

Reid Miller, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Washington State University

I first met Terry at a Thermophysical Properties Conference in Boulder, Colorado, and he encouraged me to come to UWA on a leave from my university. This was appealing, so he arranged some visiting scholar support, and my wife Nancy and I arrived in Perth for a six-month stay in 1999. Terry was our gracious host, arranging an apartment across the street from the campus and seeing that we had everything we needed in the apartment and were involved in many social and cultural events. I will never forget Terry, Dave Manning and me grilling and serving sardines to long lines of folks at the yearly festival in Fremantle. He took me to a Western Derby, introducing me to Footy, and I have followed the Eagles and Dockers for two decades since. He and Christine invited us to their home for dinner gatherings of UWA folks, swimming, barbies there and at the beach, making us feel like we were adopted Aussies. On Terry’s suggestion, we watched an ABC episode of “A River Somewhere”, and being a fly fisherman, I was hooked. When we returned home, Terry made sure I was in possession of a complete set of tapes of these programs. My tasks on this first extended stay at UWA were many-fold. Terry and I team-taught a graduate course on hydrocarbon fluid properties, we did joint research with Dave Manning on important northwest-slope production fluids, and I helped his new grad student Eric May design his research equipment. Terry shared his office with me in the Oil and Gas Research Centre to maximize the mutual benefits of our time together. I was impressed that he was pioneering cooperative research with the rapidly developing oil and gas industry in Western Australia, as well as providing advanced coursework for employed professionals. He never wavered from this vision of collaboration, which has been of tremendous benefit to both this industry and the university.

Dave Manning (left), Reid Miller and Terry at the Fremantle Sardine Festival in 1999.
Image Credit: Nancy Miller

Terry was an outstanding researcher and teacher at UWA. His student Eric came to work in my lab for six months, my wife and I returned to Perth in 2002, and we lived with Terry in his Trigg Beach home for this stay. He had asked me to help Eric put the final touches on his PhD thesis. Eric produced the outstanding PhD thesis at UWA the year he graduated, a tribute of course to Eric but also to his advisor Terry. I was never prouder of Terry than when I walked into the engineering complex and saw his name on a plaque, indicating he had won the outstanding teacher award in the college. Five years later, we returned to Perth, and I was fortunate to work with Eric and his budding research group. By this time, Terry’s health had led him to retire from full-time at UWA, and he was living in Tasmania but often visiting Perth for his active consulting work with industry.

Nancy and I came to Perth for a month last year and had several visits with Terry in hospital. Although experiencing many physical problems, he was sharp and eager to communicate as always, reading and discussing the current news and the best books of our times. I gave him suggestions, and he gave me many more. He was easy to know, easy to talk to, and always willing to discuss the problems of the world. I learned so much from him – all about Australia and much about my own country and beyond. If I feel like I live and must function in a world rather than a country, Terry was in large part responsible for that perspective. He had more influence on me than anyone else I have known.

J. P. Martin Trusler, Imperial College London

I first met Terry at NIST in 1984, where we had both gone to work with Mike Moldover on the redetermination of the gas constant. Terry was a source of great inspiration and fun and it was always a huge pleasure to work with him. Although educated on opposite sides of the world, we found that we had much in common in our approach to science. Terry pursued nothing less than excellence in his research work and was always keen to engage with others. He was determined to make the most of every opportunity from attempting to expend in full the available budget at NIST, to the punishing weekend touristic schedule he devised for his family and friends. Terry was also a great optimist, not least about the likely submission date of his long-awaited doctoral thesis! Our time together at NIST was quite brief but we remained friends and colleagues thereafter and met regularly at conferences. In 1991, I spend two months visiting him at Murdoch University in Perth and I saw him last on a return visit to Perth in August 2017, finding him as optimistic and upbeat as ever despite his obvious health problems. His passing is a sad loss.

Terry at Boltzmann’s grave in Vienna with a minor modification to the epitaph.
[Photo supplied by Martin Trusler]

Chris Creagh, Murdoch University

The attached picture is how I remember Terry as a lecturer at Murdoch University. In the 1990s he taught me mechanics, thermodynamics and stat mechanics. I always found what he was teaching to be interesting and easy to understand. He was kind, had a good sense of humour and used practical examples of everyday things to illustrate the content of his lectures. When he needed someone to help out with the Physics Fun Day at Adventure World he would have a string of volunteers from the students because he was inclusive of everyone and made whatever we were doing fun. He inspired me to be the best physics lecturer I could be. I am sad that he is no longer with us but I am sure his memory and legacy live on in the lives of the students and staff he worked with.

Terry from his days at Murdoch University.
[Photo supplied by Chris Creagh]

Cyril Edwards, Professor Emeritus, UWA

Were I to write an epilogue for Terry I’d offer it in two versions – one lengthy, the other short. The thumbnail might be to say simply that “he was a loveable rogue”… but a few more brush strokes are needed to reveal how this perspective arose and why I will always think fondly of him in those terms.

“It’s all been bloody marvellous” … was so typical of his attitude to life. As an avid ABC listener, he would have grieved with many of us when broadcaster Mark Colvin died in not dissimilar circumstances a year ago. I wonder if, like Colvin, he came up with this in one final bedside committee meeting – or those responsible for its choice simply felt as I do. Terry had certainly enjoyed Colvin’s autobiography and might equally well have chosen its foreword: “Life is a jest; and all things show it, I thought so once; but now I know it.” (Epitaph on the tomb of John Gay. Westminster Abbey.)

My association with Terry began over fifty years ago when he was a fresh graduate student. Back then UWA Physics had many more academic staff members than it has today. Each of them pursued their own special research interests and as a result there was a very fertile paddock in which graduate students could graze. Some, like Terry, rather liked the idea of grazing and he had a good look round before joining my research group which had, for the first time, brought two academics together to work on the challenge of thermodynamic phase transitions near critical points (Michael Buckingham [MJB] as the theoretician and a very youthful me as the experimentalist).

I can’t recall whether or not I’d taught him anything as an Honours student, but his arrival in my group was both roguish and dramatic. Arriving back from a sabbatical by sea, there on the quay stood TJE waving madly in greeting. He’d come along to advise that “I’m your new graduate student!” Since my wife and two young daughters were with me, and we were laden with luggage after six months overseas, we were happy to accept a ride home in his ancient Morris Minor as the cab fare.

There began a story much too long recount here. Yes it was a journey together that involved footy, squash, social cricket matches, parties, red wine and endless debates on religion and politics. Occasionally we talked about physics too … even in the long drawn out final chapter of the last two years.

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account, but there is one activity that brought us back together late in life that I’d like to put on record … for it involves someone who is very much alive today and a highly productive member of FSR and the Faculty.

Eric May had reached a point in his undergraduate career at which he needed to decide whether to take his Honours Year in Physics or move over to Engineering to complete that part of the BSc/BE double degree. I’d been impressed by Eric’s physics course work with me and so, when Terry dropped into my office one day to discuss a possible research project for an Honours student, I got pretty excited! We had the perfect candidate.

Terry asked whether I thought it might be possible to exploit the properties of microwave cavities to detect dew points in gas condensate fluids. Our early work together on critical points and my familiarity with the microwave sensors derived from working with Tony Mann in our gravity wave group could perhaps come together. If we could demonstrate a lab instrument to look at phase characteristics in fluid mixtures of interest to the Oil and Gas Industry it might even be possible to build a down-hole instrument that could profile the fluid mixtures condensates of commercial value.

The rest is history. Eric accepted the challenge and his Honours project was highly successful. He went on to write a fine doctoral thesis … “An Advanced Microwave Apparatus for the Measurement of Phase Behaviour in Gas Condensate Fluids” … published, by coincidence, on my 65th birthday in February 2003. In no time at all he took up the inaugural Chevron Chair in Gas Process Engineering at UWA.

Reid Miller gives more detail of this collaboration between Physics and Engineering in his tribute to Terry.

For me, sitting in that chapel looking up at the screen images of Terry still wearing that familiar twinkle in his eye whilst others eulogised, made me think again about the role of the rogue in science. He was a loveable one with a talent for grazing and in the last analysis it was his roguish willingness to step outside the box and try something new that was a key part of his success as a scientist.

Behind this success there lies a supportive family. We must not forget Christine, Louise and Matthew as we celebrate Terry’s life work for, without a doubt, they were essential to that success We should thank them as we share their grief … for without their patience and love it would not have been possible to claim “It’s all been bloody marvellous”.

Mike Moldover, NIST Gaithersburg

Terry Edwards must have been born with a passion for making exacting measurements. Well before he completed his thesis research, he had published papers on the stability of thermistors and novel vacuum seals. His thesis included measurements of heat capacity changes in tiny intervals (1/1000th K) degree near the critical point of carbon dioxide. To do this, he controlled temperatures to 3 millionths of a degree.

I came to know Terry during his post-doctoral years (1984 and 1985) when he was a Guest Researcher at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now NIST). He joined our group as we learned how to measure the speed of sound in gases with an uncertainty on the order of one part per million. Eventually, the group measured the universal gas constant R (and the Boltzmann constant kB) with uncertainties that were a factor of 5 smaller than previous work. Twenty-five years passed before others could improve on this accomplishment.

The gas-constant project required diverse skills. Terry’s many contributions included designing and overseeing the fabrication of a precisely-made, hollow, stainless-steel sphere about the size of a soccer ball. When the interior of the sphere was filled with gas, it became a nearly-perfect acoustic resonator; the group measured its frequencies to 1 part in 10,000,000. Everyone in the group knew that frequent visits to NBS’ shop were necessary to get tightly-specified apparatus fabricated quickly; however, not everyone wanted to visit the shop. Terry, who thoroughly enjoyed visiting people anywhere and was comfortable with almost anyone in almost any situation, thoroughly enjoyed frequent visits to the shop, making sure that our resonator was indeed nearly perfect.

Terry (left), Mike and Eric at the Thermophysical Properties Symposium, Boulder, June 26, 2012
[Image supplied by Mike Moldover]

Terry could relate to and talk to anyone. His public speaking skills were legendary. He was a welcome companion at a bar and at international symposia and workshops. No one was better than Terry at chairing a technical meeting or roasting the guest of honor at a celebration. Without obvious preparation, and with obvious Australian inflections, Terry delivered perfectly-timed puns that suited the occasion. We miss him.

Eric May (left), Terry and Zach Aman at lunch in the Swan Valley (with Roland Span and Markus Richter) in 2015.
Image Credit: Roland Span

Terry preparing the champagne in Viola, Idaho during his visit in 2000.
Image Credit: Eric May