Simon van der Meer

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This is a Dutch name; the family name is van der Meer, not Meer.
Simon van der Meer
Simon van der Meer Nl-HaNa 253-8884.jpg
Simon van der Meer (left) and wife are received by Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus in 1985
Born (1925-11-24)24 November 1925
The Hague, The Netherlands
Died 4 March 2011(2011-03-04) (aged 85)
Geneva, Switzerland
Residence Switzerland
Nationality Dutch
Fields Physics
Institutions CERN
Alma mater TU Delft
Known for Stochastic cooling
Notable awards Duddell Medal and Prize (1982)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1984)

Simon van der Meer (24 November 1925 – 4 March 2011) was a Dutch particle accelerator physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 with Carlo Rubbia for contributions to the CERN project which led to the discovery of the W and Z particles, two of the most fundamental constituents of matter.[1][2]


One of four children, Simon van der Meer was born and grew up in The Hague, the Netherlands, in the family of teachers.[3] He was educated at the city's gymnasium, graduating in 1943 during the German occupation of the Netherlands. He studied Technical Physics at the Delft University of Technology, and received an engineer's degree in 1952. After working for Philips Research in Eindhoven on high-voltage equipment for electron microscopy for a few years, he joined CERN in 1956 where he stayed until his retirement in 1990.[4][5][6]

He married Catharina M. Koopman in the mid-1960s; they had two children: Esther van der Meer (daughter) and Mathijs van der Meer (son). He also had a sister: Ge van der Meer, and a granddaughter.

Scientific work[edit]

Van der Meer invented the technique of stochastic cooling of particle beams.[7] His technique was used to accumulate intense beams of antiprotons for head-on collision with counter-rotating proton beams at 500 GeV in the Super Proton Synchrotron at CERN. Such collisions produced W and Z bosons which could be detected for the first time in 1983 by the UA1 experiment, led by Carlo Rubbia. The W and Z bosons had been theoretically predicted some years earlier, and their experimental discovery was considered a significant success for CERN. Van der Meer and Rubbia shared the 1984 Nobel Prize for their decisive contributions to the project.[8]

Van der Meer and Ernest Lawrence are the only two accelerator physicists who have won the Nobel prize.


  1. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1984". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  2. ^ Darriulat, Pierre. "The W and Z particles: a personal recollection". CERN Courier 44 (3): 13–16. 
  3. ^ "Obituary: Simon Van der Meer". The Daily Telegraph. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Telegdi, Val (January 1991). "Simon van der Meer retires". CERN Courier 31 (1): 14–15. 
  5. ^ Simon van der Meer – Biographical. (4 March 2011). Retrieved on 3 April 2014.
  6. ^ Caspers, Fritz; Koziol, Heribert; Mohl, Dieter (June 2011). "Simon van der Meer: a quiet giant of engineering and physics". CERN Courier 51 (5): 24–27. 
  7. ^ Nobel Press Release. (17 October 1984). Retrieved on 3 April 2014.
  8. ^ The Economist, "Simon van der Meer", 19 March 2011, p. 96.

External links[edit]