John Adams (physicist)

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For other people named John Adams, see John Adams (disambiguation).

Sir John Bertram Adams KBE, FRS[1] (24 May 1920 – 3 March 1984) was a British accelerator physicist and administrator.

During World War II, Adams worked in the Radar laboratories of the British Ministry of Aircraft Production where he learned physics and engineering on the job. After the war he moved to Harwell and the Atomic Energy Research Establishment. He had no formal qualifications but became expert in the design and construction of the advanced machines and instruments used in physics research, designing the Harwell Synchrocyclotron. In 1953 he joined CERN as director of the Proton Synchrotron division. In 1961 he returned to the UK as director of the Culham Fusion Laboratory, and then from 1966 to 1971 he was a member of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

Returning to CERN in 1971 as Director-General of Laboratory II, he led the design of the Super Proton Synchrotron. He split the duties of CERN Director General with Willibald Jentschke and then Léon van Hove during the 1970s. With the reorganisation of CERN in 1976, he became the executive Director-General, working on obtaining funding for the LEP collider. [2][3][4]

The John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science, an accelerator physics research institute comprising researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London and the University of Oxford is named in his honour.


  1. ^ Stafford, G. H. (1986). "John Bertram Adams. 24 May 1920-3 March 1984". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 32: 2–0. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1986.0001. JSTOR 770106.  edit
  2. ^ "Homage to Sir John". CERN Courier 24 (6): 232–236. July 1984. 
  3. ^ "Sir John Adams 1920-1984". CERN Courier 24 (3): 91. April 1984. 
  4. ^ "John Adams: Project Director". CERN Courier 8 (12): 310. December 1968. 

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Preceded by
Bernard Gregory
CERN Director General
1971 – 1975 with Willibald Jentschke

1976 – 1980 with Léon van Hove

Succeeded by
Herwig Schopper