van der Meer, Simon

van der Meer, Simon,

1925–2011, Dutch physical engineer. He spent nearly his entire career at CERNCERN
or European Organization for Nuclear Research,
nuclear and particle physics research center straddling the French-Swiss border W of Geneva, Switzerland. Established in 1952 as the provisional European Center for Nuclear Research (the acronym CERN derives from this
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, where he did his most important work with Carlo RubbiaRubbia, Carlo,
1934–, Italian physicist, Ph.D. Univ. of Pisa, 1957. A professor of physics at the Univ. of Rome and later at Harvard, Rubbia did his most important work with Simon van der Meer at CERN.
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. They discovered the W and Z particlesW and Z particles,
elementary particles that mediate, or carry, the fundamental force associated with weak interactions. The discovery of the W and Z particles at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, in the early 1980s was an important confirmation of electroweak theory,
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, which convey the weak force, one of nature's four fundamental forces (see weak interactionsweak interactions,
actions between elementary particles mediated, or carried, by W and Z particles and that are responsible for nuclear decay. Weak interactions are one of four fundamental interactions in nature, the others being gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong interactions.
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); he employed stochastic cooling to create the high-energy beams of antiprotons that were used in the proton-antiproton collisions that led to the particles' discovery. For their work, van der Meer and Rubbia were awarded the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics.