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Niels Bohr Institute > Who, What, When > > Physics tour in CPH > Blegdamsvej 17

08 August 2009

Blegdamsvej 17  

The Niels Bohr Institute

The Niels Bohr Institute at Blegdamsvej 17 was established for Niels Bohr and inaugurated in 1921 as the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Copenhagen, five years after Bohr had obtained the new professorship. Renamed in 1965 on the occasion of Bohr's 80th birthday, the institute has played a remarkable role in the history of twentieth-century physics.

The University Institute for Theoretical Physics, 1921. Courtesy of the Niels Bohr Archive.

In the 1920s it was the meeting place of the young theoretical physicists who developed and refined quantum mechanics, and in the 1930s Bohr redirected the research there to the new and expanding field of nuclear physics. Established just after the end of the Great War when the victorious Allies wanted nothing to do with the Axis powers, Bohr successfully created a truly international atmosphere for physicists in neutral Denmark.

Later, this international emphasis became apparent once again at the height of the Cold War, when the institute was the first in the Western world to be visited by Soviet physicists. Another of Bohr's precepts in establishing the institute was that an institution for theoretical physics should include relevant experimental equipment so that theoretical physicists would have constant and immediate opportunities to have their hypotheses tested.

The Blegdamsvej institute, which was integrated some years ago into an expanded Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen incorporating teaching and research in astronomy, physics and geophysics, continues to this day as an international center for physics. Prospective visitors who wish to include the institute in their physical tour of Copenhagen are encouraged to make prior contact with the Niels Bohr Archive, an independent institution located at the institute, that holds the papers of Niels Bohr and those of some of his closest colleagues.

Although still in use, the institute's original lecture hall, Auditorium A, and Bohr's personal office have been kept intact and may be seen. There also may be an opportunity to consult original archival materials as well as to meet the institute's physicists.

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