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Obituary
Lawrence Talbot

06 April 2005


Lawrence Talbot (UC Berkeley photo)
Lawrence Talbot, an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering known for his work in fluid mechanics, died March 19 of heart failure. He was 79.

Talbot joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1951, doing work in high-altitude and high- speed aerodynamics that was largely used in satellite design and use. He worked on rarefied gas dynamics in what was then known on campus as the Division of Aeronautical Sciences at a time when the division was well known for its work in that field.

In the late 1960s, Talbot turned his attention to bioengineering in the early days of that discipline, working on fluid dynamics of the body's blood. He also did research in shock structure, combustion and flames, and real gas effects before he retired in 1991.

In the last 20 years of his life, including during his retirement, Talbot worked with colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on his research in turbulent combustion and flames. This work combined theoretical analyses, computational modeling, and experiments employing state-of-the art laser-based optical diagnostics. This research led to improved efficiency of gas-turbine engines while reducing emissions of pollutants.

Known for his gregarious and optimistic nature, Talbot particularly liked working with students, mentoring and supervising many Ph.D. students who went on to successful careers in academia, industry, and government.

Over the years, Talbot received several honors and awards. He was a Miller Research Professor in 1960-61, a Guggenheim Scholar in 1967-68, and a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Talbot, who earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, was a visiting fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University from 1967 to 1968 and a research scholar at Magdalen College at Oxford University from 1975 to 1976.

Talbot is survived by his wife of 45 years, Vivian Talbot of Berkeley; stepson Wiles Edison of Santa Rosa; and two grandchildren, Julian and Nathaniel. He was preceded in death by his son, James, in 1977.

A memorial service will be held at the Faculty Club on Wednesday, May 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Great Hall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Agua Para La Vida (an NGO that provides technical assistance in Nicaragua), 2311 Webster St., Berkeley, CA 94705 or the American Lung Association.
- Noel Gallagher