Life and Work of Rolf Wideröe by © Pedro Waloschek,     => Contents

Box 4:   Roald Tangen, Kerst und Wideröe

Professor Roald Tangen (Oslo University) reports [Ta93]:

"I can well remember the events of 1941. At the time I was working on a small Van-de-Graaff generator which we had built at the Physical Institute of Trondheim Polytechnic. In the autumn of 1941 the Physics Association invited me to give a lecture on modern accelerators in Oslo.

We had been denied access to American magazines by then, and we were completely ignorant of the betatron. A few days before my trip to Oslo a single copy of the Physical Review arrived in Trondheim by ordinary mail. Mysteriously, it had found its way to us. It contained an article by Donald Kerst on the first working betatron [Ke41a]. This fitted well in my lecture in which I went on to explain that Kerst mentioned a German doctorate thesis by a R.Wideröe in which a fundamental equation for the betatron was developed. I didn't know anyone by the name of Wideröe at the time, but I told my audience that the name indicated that he could be a Norwegian. As we were to discover soon enough, Rolf Wideröe was sitting in the auditorium! After my lecture we chatted about this strange coincidence.

42 years went by before we met again. In the same auditorium in which I had spoken about Kerst's betatron, Wideröe, on the invitation of Oslo University, gave an account of his scientific life in 1983. My task was to thank him for his lecture. And while I was at it, I promptly mentioned what had occurred on the very same spot in 1941."