Bengt Forkman, 1930–2020

Bengt Forkman
Bengt Forkman
Photo credit: Per Lindström

We regret to inform you that Bengt Forkman passed away at the age of 90. Bengt was Professor Emeritus of Nuclear Physics at the Department of Physics at Lund University. He is well recognized as the initiator of MAX-lab as well as its first director from 1981 to 1991, as chronicled in his book, “And it became light: how MAX-lab came into being, grew up and became large.” Many of us remember Bengt for his enthusiastic commitment and the work he put into the MAX project during his lifetime. Without him, we would not be where we are today.

“As a doctoral student and early researcher, Bengt was always interested, even of us on a personal level. He believed in us but also assumed results. He could be stubborn, but all the time considering that things would be done. Bengt had a special ability to take for granted that moving mountains were possible. And he could also get people around him to help him do it! When I met Bengt in his later projects, books, the history of physics and the exhibition about UrMAX, his humane perspective became even clearer. Even though he was retired, there was still the same drive. I can still hear his quick phone calls in my head: “Yes, it’s Bengt Forkman.… Bang… bang… bang… click”. Complete trust combined with the expectation of results.”

Sverker Werin, MAX IV Laboratory & Dept of Physics


“My first memory of Bengt Forkman is when he in the spring term of 1984 organized a seminar series in connection with Fysicum’s pub evenings on the theme “Light”. The seminars brought up the concept of light from different aspects with invited lecturers from different departments within Lund University. One of the seminars dealt with synchrotron light and included a study visit to the MAX-lab, which had been under construction in the M-building for a year. At this time, the storage ring was not yet assembled, no beamlines were in place and there was no research group conducting synchrotron light research. The curiosity about MAX-lab and synchrotron lights remained when it eventually became time for me to think about my degree work and postgraduate education. I got the opportunity to complete both at MAX-lab and the rest is, as it is called, history. Without Bengt, I would probably never have had that first contact with MAX-lab and my professional life would have looked different.”

Stefan Wiklund, MAX IV Laboratory

“I first met Bengt in 1986 when I started as a doctoral student in the photonuclear group with Jan-Olof Adler and Bent Schröder. At the time, Bengt was mostly involved in the construction of MAX-lab as such and not so much in the daily activities of the photonuclear group. Although I have never directly collaborated with him on a professional level I feel we had good contact anyway. One characteristic of Bengt that I especially remember is that he was always interested in how my family was doing and that he always had complete knowledge about what my children were doing, even though he had not met them that often. I remember him as genuinely interested in other people and full of kindness. We miss him.”

Lennart Isaksson, MAX IV Laboratory