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  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2020

Obsessed by a Dream

The Physicist Rolf Widerøe – a Giant in the History of Accelerators

  • First, comprehensive biography of one of the founders of the field of accelerator physics

  • Contains material and insights obtained from previously restricted archives

  • Treats both his work and life on an equal footing

Part of the book series: Springer Biographies (SPRINGERBIOGS)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxxiv
  2. A Comfortable Home

    • Aashild Sørheim
    Pages 1-58Open Access
  3. The World Awaits

    • Aashild Sørheim
    Pages 59-166Open Access
  4. The Dark Chapter

    • Aashild Sørheim
    Pages 167-222Open Access
  5. Treason Case Number 3418

    • Aashild Sørheim
    Pages 223-280Open Access
  6. But There Was More …

    • Aashild Sørheim
    Pages 281-418Open Access
  7. Why?

    • Aashild Sørheim
    Pages 419-470Open Access
  8. Postscript: The Letter from His Brother

    • Aashild Sørheim
    Pages 471-500Open Access
  9. Back Matter

    Pages 501-511

About this book

This Open Access biography chronicles the life and achievements of the Norwegian engineer and physicist Rolf Widerøe. Readers who meet him in the pages of this book will wonder why he isn't better known. 

The first of Widerøe's many pioneering contributions in the field of accelerator physics was the betatron, the second, the linear accelerator, both summarized in a 27 page PhD. The betatron revolutionized the fields of cancer treatment through radiation therapy and also nondestructive testing; hospitals worldwide installed Widerøe's machine and today’s modern radiation treatment equipment is based on his inventions. The most recent renaissance of the linac provides unprecedented x-ray intensities at Free Electron Laser (FEL) facilities in operation and construction worldwide.        .

Widerøe’s story also includes a fair share of drama, particularly during World War II when both Germans and the Allies vied for his collaboration. Widerøe held leading positions in multinational industry groups and was one of the consultants for building the world's largest nuclear laboratory, CERN, in Switzerland. He gained over 200 patents, received several honorary doctorates and a number of international awards.

The author, a professional writer and maker of TV documentaries, has gained access to hitherto restricted archives in several countries, which provided a wealth of new material and insights, in particular in relation to the war years. She tells here a gripping and illuminating story.


  • History of accelerator physics
  • Betratron
  • Medical accelerators
  • Hadrontherapy
  • Linac
  • Life and Work of Rolf Wideröe
  • Radiation therapy machine
  • Resonance accelerator
  • Accelerators during WWII
  • Linear particle accelerator
  • Invention of the cyclotron
  • Open access

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oslo, Norway

    Aashild Sørheim

About the author

Aashild Sørheim is a professional writer and producer, with a long experience gained from working with different types of media, including TV-documentaries, commissioned educational films and interactive digital programs. She received her Cand. philol. degree from the University of Oslo and, after taking a diploma in education, began her media career with scholarships in both the USA and Europe. From 1973 to 1983 she worked as a journalist for Aftenposten, Norway's leading newspaper. Aashild is founder and former CEO of "The National Foundation for the Dissemination of Research" (1991-2005). She has been a consultant and received manuscript assignments for The Norwegian Broadcasting Company NRK, commercial companies, research institutes and professional organisations. In addition, she is the Co-founder and CEO of StreamChannel AS (since 2014),  the Co-founder and CEO of KnowHow Media AS (since 1994) and has been the head of information services of the Royal Norwegian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (1985-1990). Her TV documentary "Always Brothers. Rolf and Viggo Wideroe" was broadcast in 2016.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)