Ede Hertelendi was born in Szeged (Hungary) in 1950.
He studied there in his home town.
He graduated as a physicist in 1974, and began work at the Institute of Nuclear Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1975. He worked for this institution until his tragic death in 1999.
During the 1970s, research institutes in Hungary faced grave difficulties in procuring up-to-date equipment. Ede Hertelendi, an experimental physicist blessed with excellent technical abilities, was able to design and build his own hardware.
He established the Laboratory of Environmental Studies, to date, is one of the best equipped laboratories in the Institute. He played a decisive role in developing the only low-levelb-counting facility in Hungary, which could be used in archaeological, hydrological and geological research alike. He equipped this radiocarbon measuring system with his own combustion and purification system for CO2 preparation. The determination of δ13C correction is carried out by an automatic, computer controlled mass spectrometer used for measuring isotope ratios, another construction of him. On the basis of world-wide intercalibration measurements, this system has been recognized with as one of the ten most precise measuring units in the world.
He applied the radiocarbon method in the most various areas of science. His interests ranged from archaeology through hydrology all the way to the hottest issues of environmental research. His measurements were fundamental help in determining the chronological sequence of Neolithic archaeological sites in Eastern-Hungary. He also joined Bronze Age research in Hungary. His measurements of 14C as well as isotope analytical studies were of great help in defining the palaeoenvironments influencing the distribution of prehistoric multilayered tell settlements in the Carpathian Basin (8000-35000 BP). He also carried out dating projects in bogs and sediments of Lake Balaton. His extensive 14C and isotope analytical measurements contributed to the palaeoecological reconstruction of loess formation in numerous sample squares in the Great Hungarian Plain. He also studied the origins of karstic water, the vulnerability of aquifers as well as the application of 14C and other natural isotopes in hydrological and geological research. Moreover, he studied the effect of human activity on the concentration of 14C in the atmosphere as well as the impact of nuclear plants to the environment. He was a renowned and widely acknowledged public personality, a member of the Committees for Radiation Protection and Environmental Physics, Radioanalytical as well as Environmental Geochemistry of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He also sat in the Subcommittee for Nuclear Energetics. He was a member in the governing bodies of the COST-65, COST-67 and COST-621 Actions of the European Union.
His achievements were acknowledged by the “Interdisciplinary Prize” granted by Institute of Nuclear Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1986. He also received the “Elemér Szádeczky-Kardoss Prize” from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1988. In addition, he was awarded the “Institute Prize” of the Institute of Nuclear Research of the HAS in 1992, and the “Dénes Gábor Prize” of the NOVOFER Foundation in 1998.
Ede Hertelendi was not only an outstanding scholar, but excelled as a teacher as well. His university lectures, motivated by enthusiasm for his research, were extremely popular among the students. Over years, he was chief adviser on 12 graduation theses. His knowledge and special skills, transferred to his students, however, remain with us, and his students will follow in his footsteps.