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Dr. Karl Erdman

15 August 2014
TRIUMF is sad to report the death on August 11th of Karl Erdman, one of the lab's founding physicists who played a major role in its construction and development in the early years.  He was 88.  

Karl was a faculty member at UBC Physics from the mid-fifties until 1991 with an active research program in nuclear, particle and applied physics.  When TRIUMF was funded in 1968, Karl took on the major technical challenge of building the 4-MW radio frequency accelerating system for the 500-MeV cyclotron. When that began operation he took part in low-energy pion experiments, but in 1976 began a five-year stint as Associate Director, his major responsibility being the development of the cyclotron and experimental facilities. This was the period during which the proton beam current was coaxed to its 100 microamp design goal, the various proton, neutron, pion and muon beam lines were completed, and the polarized ion source was commissioned.

In retirement Karl was closely involved with the Richmond company EBCO in development of their range of TRIUMF-designed low-energy isotope production cyclotrons (now managed by their subsidiary ACSI).

Karl was operated on for a brain tumour last October and recovered well, claiming that he "felt like a 40-year old again". But there was a recurrence this spring.  His booming voice and laughter will be sorely missed by all that knew him.


ERDMAN, Karl Lembit


After 88 years on this earth Karl Erdman peacefully passed away into the arms of his personal saviour at 4:00 A.M on Monday, August 11, 2014. The eldest of three children Karl was predeceased  by his cherished wife Dorothy and his brother Ilmar of Ottawa, Ontario. He is survived by his children (Linda Erdman (Geoff Goodall), Ann Erdman, and Barbara (Stephen) Noblett)); grandchildren (Nathaniel and Keevan Noblett); his sister Evelyn of Calgary, Alberta; his fourth daughter Marie who became a part of the Erdman family 40 years ago; and his extended family members in Canada, the USA and Estonia. 
Karl's family is grateful for his joy of life, his curiosity, his teaching skills, his willingness to help, and his everyday example of what it means to lead a life centred on Christ.  He will be sorely missed by the large number of friends that he left behind; from his childhood in Alberta, his days at the Universities of Alberta and UBC, his caring church families, his various places of work (UBC, TRIUMF, EbCo and ACSI), his times of community service and his travels throughout the world.  Karl was an accomplished physicist, a patient educator, an enthusiastic member of church choirs, and a perfectionist who could "fix" anything and everything. He was an adventurer who was always ready to explore new places throughout the world and enjoy new experiences as they were presented. A man of immense intellect Karl readily thought through complex issues with seamless ease and applied his vast scientific knowledge to the betterment of humanity. He lived sincerely and fully day by day and was a faithful and effective witness to the love of God. A man of integrity he never spoke ill of others nor raised his voice in anger, he always saw things in a positive light and enriched the lives of many. 

The family wishes to thank the team at the Delta View Life Enrichment Center for their care and compassion during the past weeks, which made his last days peaceful and comfortable. A Funeral service will be held on August 26 at 2:00 P.M. at Kerrisdale Presbyterian, 2733 W 41 Ave Vancouver. The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations are made to:  Ratanak International (, or a charity of your choice.


Prepared by Mike Craddock.


Update: The BC Flag at UBC (Main Mall and Agronomy Road) will be lowered on Tuesday, August 19, in memory of Professor Emeritus Karl Lembit Erdman, who passed away on August 11, 2014.