19 April 2009
Sir John Maddox (or JM), as his colleagues used to refer to him, passed away on the 12th of April 2009. JM first took the reins as the editor of Nature in 1966, served till 1973 and returned in 1980 till November 1995. He was the journal fourth editor. It was during his first stint that he laid the foundations of Nature as it is today. He threw aside the highly informal system of selecting papers, established a system of peer review and a strong tradition of journalism in the journal. He had trained and researched as a physicist and was a virtuoso science writer, coming to Nature with substantial experience as a newspaper science correspondent. He established the “voice of Nature” in unsigned editorials, although his voice was often unmistakably his own. Many who knew him personally will remember a dry and incisive wit, along with a strong streak of human kindness and a perpetually restless, irresistible and unstoppable force.