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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter October 31, 2019

In Memoriam: René Dybkaer

  • Brynn Hibbert
From the journal Chemistry International


I first met René when the IUPAC General Assembly came to Brisbane Australia in 2001. IUPAC was not an organization I (then) knew much about, but I found myself confronted by Paul De Bièvre demanding that I join a task group on metrological traceability. At the time I would not have called myself a metrologist in chemistry (MiC) or in any other field. The great minds assembled for the project were Paul De Bièvre, René Dybkaer, Ales Fajgelj, and me. I had no idea that our task would take ten years (finally published as De Bièvre, P.; Dybkaer, R.; Fajgelj, A.; Hibbert, D. B.: Metrological traceability of measurement results in chemistry: Concepts and implementation (IUPAC Technical report) Pure Appl. Chem. 2011, 83, 1873-1935), and that during the time I would come to form strong friendships with my comrades in the “Gang of Four.” Paul is no longer with us and now René has left the stage.

René was tall, thin with a habit of pursing his lips while saying “Oh no, I don’t think that can be right” as he pointed out a logical flaw in an argument. He was invariably correct, and no one took offence, but always deferred to his clarity of thought. This led to a no-compromise approach. Whereas some of us would try and see the others point of view, René simply said what was correct and that was that. We met his splendid wife, and occasionally heard tell of his past. Had he really represented Denmark in the Olympic Games in the 1950s wielding a sword?

 René Dybkaer (left) and Brynn Hibbert at the IUPAC Congress/GA in Torino in 2007.

René Dybkaer (left) and Brynn Hibbert at the IUPAC Congress/GA in Torino in 2007.

I served with René on the Joint Committee for Guides on Metrology (JCGM) Working Group 1, the committee that has the stewardship of the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM, JCGM 100:2008), and watched him as he created the Silver Book (G. Férard, R. Dybkaer, and X. Fuentes-Arderiu: Compendium of terminology and nomenclature of properties in clinical laboratory sciences: Recommendations 2016; RSC Publishing: Cambridge, UK, 2017.) He was the master of the logical naming of quantities by dimension. So on page 146 of the Silver Book we find dimension L2MT–2Q–1 the “entitic kelvic energy constant” which to you and me is simply the Boltzmann constant.

René was kind, and generous with his time and thoughts. He had an interest in science fiction and science fantasy and was happy to recommend titles, but above all René was an excellent teacher and companion. René passed away on April 29, 2019.

Published Online: 2019-10-31
Published in Print: 2019-10-01

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