December 1996 FSL Forum
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Clive Fraser Baillie, a scientist at FSL for the last three years, and his wife Julie died 12 October 1996 in a climbing accident on Mt. Toll in the Colorado Indian Peaks Wilderness. A nearby hiker witnessed that the two experienced and cautious mountaineers were struck by a spontaneous rock slide.
Dr. Baillie grew up in Fife, Scotland, and graduated with honors from the University of St. Andrews. In 1986 he received a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and later that year moved to the United States to take a postdoctoral assignment at the California Institute of Technology. In 1990 he accepted a joint postdoctoral assignment in physics and computer science at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder), and was later promoted to Assistant Professor. Dr. Baillie took a Research Associate position at FSL in 1993 to help develop a numerical weather prediction model specifically designed to run well on massively parallel processors.
Dr. Baillie left a long list of accomplishments during his short tenure at FSL, while simultaneously fulfilling his duties as a professor at CU-Boulder. He authored and coauthored at least 14 scientific papers, attended many national and international conferences, and made a short film for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on high performance computing.
Dr. Baillie's primary project at FSL included collaboration on the development of the Quasi-nonhydrostatic (QNH) high-resolution meteorological model, optimizing code for speed and ease of use. He wrote and tested codes for portability and efficiency in achieving high performance on a wide range of serial, vector, and parallel computers. He also parallelized the National Centers for Environmental Prediction's Eta model.
I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Clive for the last several years. My association with him started when I asked Oliver McBryan, Director of the University of Colorado's Center for Applied Parallel Processing, if he had any brilliant postdocs interested in weather modeling. From my very first meeting with him, it was clear that Clive was not only brilliant, he was also a fascinating person with a broad range of interests. Conversations with Clive would range from computing through physics, politics, critiques of the USA and Europe, and the latest movies (he especially enjoyed movies filmed in Scotland).
In view of his legacy in computer science, it is not surprising that Clive was a computer genius. He would agree to do something that I thought would take several weeks and be back in a few days. Not only did he complete everything we originally discussed, but he also would have incorporated new ideas to make the end result even better. He worked with parallel computers in his physics career and would occasionally describe some of the problems he had tackled. He said it was more satisfying to see a supercomputer compute for many hours and deliver a weather forecast than to watch it compute for months and deliver a single number, like the calculated mass of an electron using the gauge theory.
Clive, a Scot, enjoyed poking fun at some aspects of the U.S. culture. He was particularly scornful of bureaucracy and liked to tell me that it was my job to handle the system while he did the science. It didn't sound fair to me, but when Clive explained it, there was a certain logic. Having a keen interest in nature, he loved Colorado, especially the mountains where he and his wife Julie spent a lot of time with family and friends. He often mentioned his mountain climbs, 20-mile hikes, and long bicycle rides, and just last year he had taken his inlaws to hike with his parents in Scotland.
Clive was one of the most intelligent and interesting people I have met in my career. His colleagues here at FSL greatly miss his inspiration, friendship, and the research capabilities he brought to our laboratory.
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