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Joan Oro, a pioneer in the study of the origins of life and a frequent lecturer at ICTP's biennial conferences on this topic, died on 3 September. He was 81. The seminal discovery of his career took place on Christmas eve in 1959 in his laboratory when he synthesized adenine, a key component of DNA. Oro, founder and first director of the biochemical and biophysical sciences department at the University of Houston, USA, worked for the US National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) during the Apollo and Viking programmes in the 1960s and 1970s. Bryce DeWitt, Roland Blumberg professor of physics at the University of Texas, Austin, and winner of the ICTP Dirac Medal in 1987, passed away on 23 September. He was 81. DeWitt was an internationally renowned scientists best known for his studies on quantum gravity and gauge theory. His name is associated with the Wheeler-DeWitt equation, which provides the basis for quantum cosmology, and the Schwinger-DeWitt expansion, which is widely used in the study of field theories in curved space-time and string theory computations.

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