Victor Frederik Weisskopf

Director-General (August 1961 – January 1966)

Austrian professor who joined CERN's Theoretical Studies Division in 1957, and was elected Director-General in August 1961.

Victor Frederik Weisskopf in November 1962 (Image: CERN)

Victor Frederik Weisskopf (1908–2002, Austrian) was born in Austria in 1908. He first came to CERN as a guest professor in the Theoretical Studies Division in 1957, where he stayed for a year, conducting research on the 600 MeV Synchrocyclotron. He was a member of the directorate in charge of research in 1960 and succeeded John Adams as CERN Director-General in August 1961.

The world of physics – and CERN itself – were changing rapidly during Weisskopf's mandate. The first attempts at experiments using neutrino beams began in 1961. In 1965, Weisskopf's last year as Director-General, the CERN council accepted the proposal for the construction of the Intersecting Storage Rings (ISR). That same year, the French government agreed that CERN could lease the area of land adjoining the initial CERN laboratory in Switzerland for the construction of the ISR. This made CERN the first international organization to span a frontier.

Bernard Gregory succeeded Weisskopf in January 1966. From 1966–1977 Weisskopf was a member of the Scientific Policy Committee. He was also a member of the Pauli Committee. After his term of office, Weisskopf returned as a professor to Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), but he returned regularly to CERN as guest lecturer in the Summer Students programme.