Douglas Forbes Brewer


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Professor Douglas Brewer was born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1925 and educated at the Crypt Grammar School, Gloucester, and the University of Oxford 1943-1945 and 1948-1950.

He worked at the GEC Research Laboratories 1945-1948 and received his Doctorate at Oxford University in 1953 on the discovery of the suppression of superfluidity in unsaturated helium-4 films. With D.O. Edwards, he observed the linear sub-critical region of superflow in capillary tubes 1954-1956 and demonstrated its hydrodynamic nature.

He was Associate Professor at Ohio State University 1957-1959, where he made the first observation of the linear specific heat of liquid helium-3 and its positive pressure dependence as a Fermi fluid; and the Pomeranchuk minimum in its melting curve.

He joined the new University of Sussex in 1962 as one of the founding Maths and Physical Sciences (MAPS) lecturers, specialising in Low Temperature Physics. He initiated low-temperature experimental work and developed a major group at Sussex. His extensive work on helium-3 and helium-4 in porous materials included observation of T-squared specific heat in monolayer films of helium-3 and helium-4 and of two-dimensional rotons in the second layer of helium-4. His measurements of the mean free path-limited spin diffusion coefficient and thermal conductivity of liquid helium-3 demonstrated that Landau quasiparticles are physical entities, not theoretical constructs. He discovered surface magnetism in helium-3 by measurements of the NMR susceptibility in a porous glass.

He was the editor of the Progress in Low Temperature Physics series, was successively Secretary and Chairman of the Very Low Temperature Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, and Organiser of LT19.

On 25th July 2015, current and former Physics Faculty and alumni came together to celebrate Professor Douglas Brewer’s 90th birthday on campus. This event was initiated by alumnus Dr Peter Ford MBE and supported by the Development and Alumni Office and the School of MPS. On the day, Professor Douglas Brewer was joined by many of his former colleagues and students as well as the current head of School, Professor Peter Coles and Head of Department, Professor Claudia Eberlein, who kindly gave a tour of the department following the lunch.

Professor Douglas Brewer was a compassionate supporter of the Republic of Georgia from the first days of its regained independence. His personal and professional qualities resulted in a massive circle of friends he made with the Georgian colleagues. Eduard Shevardnadze who was the president of Georgia back then became one of his friends. In 1996 Professor Douglas Brewer was elected as a Foreign Member of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences. Naturally, President Shevardnadze congratulated the prominent British scientist. Professor Brewer kept the framed letter dated 18th July 1996 from the President of Georgia on the wall in his bedroom till the last minutes of his life.