Finn Aaserud

Aaserud headshot TO USE
Born in Fredrikstad, Norway, in 1948, Finn Aaserud obtained the equivalent of a PhD in physics at the University of Oslo in 1975. By then his interest had changed from physics proper to the history of modern physics. The possibilities of formal education in the history of science in Norway being limited, Aaserud received a grant from the Norwegian government to obtain a PhD in this field at Johns Hopkins University. His thesis ultimately developed into the book Redirecting Science: Niels Bohr, Philanthropy and the Rise of Nuclear Physics first published by Cambridge University Press in 1990.

Aaserud spent time writing his thesis at the Niels Bohr Archive (NBA) in Copenhagen, and after he received his PhD in 1984, he was hired by NBA to help prepare Niels Bohr's 100th anniversary exhibit in 1985 at Copenhagen city hall. By the time the exhibit opened, Aaserud had moved to New York to become the first Associate Historian at the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics (AIP). He successfully applied for grants to conduct a documentation, interview, and research project on American physicists’ involvement in science policy, with particular emphasis on the Jason group of elite academic physicists established in 1959 to advise the Pentagon.

In 1989 Aaserud moved to Copenhagen to become Director of NBA, which he led until his retirement in 2017. As NBA director, Aaserud became General Editor of the Niels Bohr Collected Works. He was solely responsible for volumes 11 and 12, respectively on Niels Bohr’s political involvements and his miscellaneous non-scientific writings. The entire project was completed in 2008. During his long tenure at NBA Aaserud instigated new activities and expanded earlier ones: new archival collections were obtained; selected collections were digitized; oral history interviews were conducted; a series of history of science seminars with talks by prominent researchers was organized; books and articles by NBA staff and by numerous international visiting researchers were published.

Aaserud was widowed in 2014 and remarried in 2018. He has two adult children.

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