Felix Bloch

Director-General (October 1954 – August 1955)

CERN's first Director-General was awarded the Nobel prize for his work on nuclear induction.

Felix Bloch at CERN in June 1955 (Image: CERN)

Felix Bloch (1905–1983, Swiss-American) was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on 23 October 1905. He attended the Federal Institute of Technology (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) in Zurich to study engineering, changing after one year's study to the Division of Mathematics and Physics at the same institution to study physics. In 1928, he was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy at the University of Leipzig, Germany, for his dissertation on the quantum mechanics of electrons in crystals and his development of the theory of metallic conduction.

On Hitler's rise to power in 1933, Bloch left Germany. He emigrated to the US in 1935 and accepted a position at Stanford University. In 1952, he was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his work on nuclear induction and became CERN's first Director-General in October 1954. In August 1955, he relinquished his duties as Director-General to Cornelis Jan Bakker in order to concentrate fully on his scientific work in the USA.