Odd Dahl

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Odd Dahl with his wife Anna

Odd Dahl (3 November 1898 – 2 June 1994) was a Norwegian engineer and explorer.[1] He is particularly remembered for his contributions to research in nuclear physics.


He was born at Drammen in Buskerud, Norway. He was the son of businessman Lauritz Dahl (1858-1932) and his wife Olga Sørensen. Dahl attended an evening technical school during his teenage years. In 1917, he was employed at Fenger Hagen, an electrical engineer with an interest in radio telephony. In 1921, Dahl was admitted as a student at the Army Flyvevæsens flight school at Kjeller in Skedsmo where he received an international pilot's license. Roald Amundsen hired him in 1922 as a pilot, mechanic, radio operator and cinematographer on an expedition in the Arctic Ocean in an effort to fly over the North Pole. After three test flight, the plane was wrecked in flight. However, Odd Dahl's research work made the expedition considered successful. He was later awarded the Order of St. Olav for his participation in the expedition. One of Dahl's main tasks were to take observations and maintain and construct instruments for the expedition's scientific director, Harald Sverdrup, who at the time was employed at The Carnegie Institution of Washington. Despite his very limited formal education, he recommended Dahl seek employment there after the expedition's end in 1925.[2][3]

After a year at the Carnegie Institution, he became involved in developing devices for high voltages for use in nuclear physics, an area where the United States at that time was lagging behind Europe. In 1926, together with Merle Tuve and Lawrence Hafstad, he constructed a Van de Graaf generator for the Carnegie Institution for Science. Ten years later he did the same for Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen. In the early stages of CERN, Dahl was invited to participate and finally in 1952 to lead the Proton Synchrotron Group's work to which his contribution had a definitive role.[4] [5]

Personal life[edit]

Dahl was married twice. In 1927, he married Anna Augusta Selmer Mathiesen (1904-1959), daughter of a doctor Johan Berger Mathiesen (1872-1923) and Augusta Selmer (1878-1929). Per Dahl, who became a researcher in accelerator physics, was the son of Dahl and his wife Anna.[6]

In 1976, he married Elisa Margrethe Munck f. Anthonisen (b. 1903), daughter of consul Fredrik J.E. Anthonisen (1872-1963) and Marie Boe Christensen (1874-1936).


  1. ^ Johnsen, Kjell (April 1995). "Obituary: Odd Dahl". Physics Today. 48 (4): 106–107. doi:10.1063/1.2807996. 
  2. ^ Holtebekk, Trygve. "Odd Dahl". In Godal, Anne Marit. Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Norsk nettleksikon. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Susan Barr. "H U Sverdrup. Oseanograf, Meteorolog". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved July 15, 2016. 
  4. ^ Johnsen, Kiehl (September 1994). "People and things: Odd Dahl 1989-1994". CERN Courier. 34 (7): 39. 
  5. ^ Holtebekk, Trygve. "Odd Dahl". In Helle, Knut. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Dahl, Eleanor; Wanderer, Peter; Taylor, Tom (February 2012). "Faces and places: Per Dahl 1932-2011". CERN Courier. 52 (1): 42–43.