Simon van der Meer
Born: 24 November 1925, the Hague, the Netherlands
Died: 4 March 2011, Geneva, Switzerland
Affiliation at the time of the award: CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
Prize motivation: "for their decisive contributions to the large project, which led to the discovery of the field particles W and Z, communicators of weak interaction"
Field: experimental particle physics
Prize share: 1/2
According to modern physics, there are four fundamental forces in nature. The weak interaction, responsible for e.g. the beta-decay of nuclei is one of them. According to the theory forces are mediated by particles: the weak interaction by the so called heavy bosons W, Z, about 100 times more massive than the proton. Simon van der Meer developed a method to accumulate a large number of energetic antiprotons in an accelerator ring. These were used in experiment where antiprotons and protons of high energy were brought to collide. In these experiments W and Z particles were discovered in 1983.