Erdal İnönü

Fizikçi, Devlet Adamı, Siyasetçi

06 Haziran, 1926
31 Ekim, 2007
Ankara University Faculty of Science Department of Physics-Mathematics

Politician and statesman, physicist (B. June 6th, 1926, Ankara, Turkey – D. October 31st, 2007, Houston, Texas / USA). He was the son of the first Prime Minister and the second President of Turkey, İsmet İnönü and Mevhibe Hanım, brother-in-law of the journalist Metin Toker and uncle of the politician Gülsüm Bilgehan. He graduated from Ankara Gazi High School in 1943 and graduated from Ankara University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physics-Mathematics in 1947. Then he received his master's (1948) and Ph.D. (1951) degrees in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in United States of America (USA). After a period of research at Princeton University, he returned to Turkey in 1952. He became an associate professor at the A.U. Faculty of Sciences where he started as an assistant in 1955. He got married with Sevinç (Sohtorik) İnönü in 1957. He was a visiting researcher at Princeton University and Oak Ridge Princeton National Laboratory again in 1958-1960.

When Erdal İnönü returned to Turkey, he served as the chairman of the Department of Theoretical Physics as a professor of theoretical physics at the Middle East Technical University (METU) (1960-64). He was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the same university (1965-68). He lectured as a visiting professor at Princeton and Columbia Universities in the United States in 1968-69. He was the Vice-Chancellor of the Middle East Technical University (1969) and then he became the rector (1970) and he resigned his office in the period of March 12th (1971). He did research as a lecturer at the same university and continued his work as a faculty member.

Erdal İnönü, resigned from his positions as a faculty member and administrator on June 5th 1983 and participated in the Sosyal Demoktrat Party (SODEP), which was founded after military coup of on September 12th (1980) as the founding president; but was vetoed by the military council. Due to the number of the founders was not enough, SODEP couldn’t attend to the general elections of 1983. Erdal İnönü was assigned as the president of SODEP again, of which the founding was completed later in December 1983.

İnönü played a constructive role in the merging of the Sosyal Demokrasi Party with the Halkçı Party (HP) and served as the chairman of the Sosyal De­mokrat Halkçı Party (SHP) that was formed with the merger of the two parties and left his position as the General Chairman of the Halkçı Partiy to Aydın Güven Gürkan in the first general assembly of the party. He was elected as the general chairman of this party in the first ordinary general assembly of SHP instead of Gürkan. He was elected as a deputy from Izmir in the midterm elections that were carried out in the same year (1986). He maintained this position after the general elections of 1987 when he was the leader of the opposition party. He was re-elected in June 1988 against İsmail Cem, and against Deniz Baykal in September 1990 in the extraordinary party congress. He won the presidential election for the second time against Deniz Baykal in the general convention in June 1991. He served as the deputy prime minister in the DYP-SHP coalition government established in 1991. He was the Deputy Prime Minister on July 2nd 1993 Sivas events and during the events of the burning of thirty-seven people and in the Madımak Hotel. He took intense criticism for not being able to prevent these events.

Prof. Dr. Erdal İnönü, who was known as one of our famous scientists as well as his political entity, received the Science Award of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) in 1973. He worked as a visiting researcher at Princeton University in 1974 for six months. He was assigned as the dean of Boğaziçi University, Faculty of Basic Sciences between 1975 and 1982. He was appointed as the Director of Basic Science Research Institute that was founded by TÜBİTAK in Istanbul in 1982. He served as the member of TÜBİTAK Science Board, Atomic Energy Commission, Executive Board of UNESCO and Head of the Turkish Physics Society.

Erdal İnönü had significant works in the field of physics. His most significant research that took place in the international scientific journals was the work he carried out in Princeton University together with Eugene Wigner who was a Hungarian-American atomic physicist in 1951. This work called “On Reduction and Representation of groups” gained a characteristics of being a general method in the groups theory and became one of the basic methods of mathematical physics. His work known as “İnönü-Wigner Reduction of Group” was considered as one of the basic concepts of modern mathematical physics.

Erdal İnönü worked at the Sabancı University and the Feza Gürsey Institute of TÜBİTAK from 2002 till the start of his treatment. He contributed to the founding of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey TÜBİTAK and served as the founding director of TÜBİTAK Basic Research Institute. İnönü, who received the Wigner Medal the most important award after the Nobel prize in physics and mathematics fields in 2004, became the second Turkish scientist who received this award after Feza Gürsey. He was also known by the scientific studies on the Republic of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire. He was a member of the Socialist International and participated in discussions as the vice president of the organization.

 Erdal İnönü was diagnosed with blood cancer in April 2006, and was treated in the United States for some time. He returned to Turkey after successful initial treatment, but this time re-admitted to hospital on August 20th 2007 with a diagnosis of pneumonia due to the disease of cancer. As a result of the tests, it was detected that the leukemia that was under control in the first treatment period occurred again and he was taken to the United States again.

İnönü died on October 31st 2007 when he was 81 years old in the hospital where he was being treated for blood cancer. His funeral was brought to Ankara by a Turkish Airlines plane on November 2nd, Friday evening. The funeral of İnönü was taken to Istanbul following the ceremony made by the state and he was buried in Zincirlikuyu Cemetery on November 4th.

He was known with his modest personality and he didn’t mind being among the ordinary people. He did not like the pretension of being taken onto the shoulders and when he was requested to be taken on the shoulders, he would have prevented it by lying down on the floor on his back with a motion called “the İnönü lying”. He didn’t like smoking. He went to the parliament on foot and unprotected from time to time.


SCIENCE: 1923-1966 Döneminde Fizik Dalındaki Araştırmalara Türkiye’nin Katkısını Gösteren Bir Bibliyografya ve Bazı Gözlemler (1971), 1923-1966 Dönemi Matematik Araştırmaları Bibliyografyası ve Bazı Gözlemler (1973), Group Theoretical Methods in Physics (with Meral Serdaroğlu, 1983).

OTHER: Mehmet Nadir Bir Eğitim ve Bilim Öncüsü (1997), Anılar ve Düşünceler 1. Cilt (1996), Anılar ve Düşünceler 2. Cilt (1998), Anılar ve Düşünceler 3. Cilt (2001), Kurultay Konuşmaları (1998), Fikirler ve Eylemler Tarih (1999), Bilim ve Siyaset Üzerine Konuşmalar (1999), Bilim Konuşmaları (2001), Üç yüz Yıllık Gecikme Tarih, Kültür, Bilim ve Siyaset Üzerine Konuşmalar (2002), Bilimsel Devrim ve Stratejik Anlamı (2003).


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