Physics in Perspective

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 406-433

First online:

Nuclear Physics in Norway, 1933–1955

  • Roland WittjeAffiliated withHistory of Science Unit, University of Regensburg Email author 

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In the late 1940s and the 1950s, Norwegian nuclear scientists, engineers, and administrators were deeply split over their nation’s goals, organization, politics, and tools for research in nuclear physics. One faction was determined to build a nuclear reactor in Norway, while another fiercely opposed the reactor plans and focused on particle accelerators. The first faction comprised scientific entrepreneurs and research technologists, the second academic scientists, most of whom began their research careers in nuclear physics in the 1930s. To understand this conflict, I trace the development of nuclear research in Norway from the early 1930s to the mid-1950s, placing it within an international context.


Odd Dahl Olaf Devik Njål Hole Johan Holtsmark Gunnar Randers Roald Tangen Leif Tronstad Bjørn Trumpy Harald Wergeland Rolf Widerøe University of Oslo University of Bergen Norwegian Institute of Technology Norwegian High Command Norsk Hydro CERN Second World War Norwegian resistance scientific institutions military-industrial complex accelerators betatron Van de Graaff accelerator heavy water nuclear fission nuclear reactor nuclear technology nuclear weapons nuclear politics