We are here today to remember Eduardo - not because we don't, each of us individually, remember him often - but because it's good to do this together, to share our memories and our distress. And it's also fitting to do so in this special place, one set aside - one could say hallowed - for meditation on matters that go beyond the everyday. Churchill was Edu's College and this Chapel is barely
We all knew Edu in different ways. I was his PhD supervisor and long time collaborator and so had a rather different relationship with him from most of those gathered here. There are whole areas of his life that I know very little about. And yet I feel I knew him well. Perhaps this is not surprising - the daily contacts of the PhD supervisor, the requirements of facing problems together in a robust and realistic spirit - these actually tell you pretty well what a person is really like, taking you well beyond what can be concealed by social graces. What strikes me, on reading the testimonies of his many friends, so movingly collected on his blogspace, is that the Eduardo I knew in the academic context was so recognisably the person whom his friends described with so much admiration, respect and affection.
If I dwell on his personal qualities here, this is not meant to suggest that he was anything other than an excellent student and scientist. He rapidly developed into a first rate numericist and his work on multiple star formation is still state of the art. (Moreover he had a command of written English, an eloquence of expression in his scientific writing that would shame his British contemporaries - a comment, perhaps, on the education system in his native
Though Eduardo probably gained more scientific citations during his PhD work than any student I have supervised, one doesn't measure a life's worth in citations and so I return to what one could discern of Eduardo the person in one's scientific interactions with him. Despite his abilities, he was very modest, with an unfeigned humility and readiness to listen. He was always gentle and courteous, able to reflect on advice and to articulate his own opinions. There was a sort of personal and intellectual integrity about him that just commanded respect. And although he treated his work with due seriousness, there was also a sort of twinkling humour not far below the surface, which one could readily evoke.
I think Eduardo had a wonderful time in
As he neared the end of his time in
for further postdoctoral appointments in Europe and
It wasn't that easy when he returned to Tenerife without a job, having to do his work by effectively camping in the IAC (and this was simply due to the stretch or resources at the IAC, so that it was hard to support the intensive computational requirements of Eduardo's work, while he still lacked a position). He accepted this with pragmatic good grace and did what he could (which was actually quite a lot: some very interesting hydrodynamical simulations of binary star formation were conducted by Edu during this period). And then - great joy - he obtained a postdoctoral position at the IAC. Not only was this the longed for return to a perch on the academic ladder but, more importantly, it was an excellent position, which combined the opportunity to branch into new projects with the freedom to pursue his own research.
It is a bittersweet thought that Eduardo's last months were probably among the happiest and most fulfilled of his life. He had everything he had dreamed of, back in Tenerife, close to his family, new opportunities to pursue astrophysics...Bitter because one can't avoid thinking `If only...' and sweet because I think if any of us were to suffer the awful random fate that befell Eduardo, we'd like to go out on a high, in a state of living life to the full. He leaves behind so much, far more than the legacy of science which his collaborators are bringing to completion and publishing in his name. On behalf of all of us here, I salute you Eduardo, scientist and human being. Eternal remembrance!
The link to the astroph article on