Martinus Veltman was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics, together with Gerardus ‘t Hooft, the doctoral student, whose doctoral dissertation he had supervised. The two awardees’ achievement, for which they received the Nobel Prize, was the “Renormalization of Yang-Mills Theory”. This achievement was considered to be one of the biggest achievements of twentieth century physics.
Martinus Veltman was born in Waalwijk, the Netherlands in 1931. After completing high school, he enrolled at the University of Utrecht to study physics. He graduated from the University of Utrecht in 1956, then continued his doctoral studies there, and received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Utrecht, in 1963. Veltman then taught at the University of Utrecht, and was appointed to Professor of Physics at the University of Utrecht, in 1966, where he remained until 1981.
While at the University of Utrecht, Professor Veltman directed the research of a doctoral student, named Gerardus ‘t Hooft. ‘t Hooft and Professor Veltman were able to show that “if the symmetries of Yang-Mills theory were to be broken according to the method suggested by Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University, then Yang-Mills theory can be renormalized”.
The dissertation that contained the above research contribution was in ‘t Hooft’s name, with Professor Veltman as the supervisor. But since the results, reported in the dissertation, were so enormously important, and with ‘t Hooft’s name on the dissertation, ‘t Hooft received most of the early accolades. It was not until the Nobel Prize was awarded, that Professor Veltman received credit for the contributions he had made to the dissertation, and with that Veltman received equal credit for the work performed.
In 1981, Professor Veltman was offered a position as Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan, which he accepted. He would remain at the University of Michigan until 1996, when he retired as the John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics. Professor Veltman is currently listed as Professor Emeritus in the physics department of the University of Michigan.
Following his retirement, Professor Veltman moved to the town of Bilthoven in the Netherlands for his retirement. Professor Veltman is married to his wife Anneke, since 1960. They have one daughter, named Helene.
Since Professor Veltman only lived in the United States for 15 years, one could argue that he probably should not be considered a Dutch American. Under normal conditions, his name would probably not have shown on the radar screen. But as a Nobel Prize winner, he deserves to be included him in the Dutch American listing.
Martinus J. G. Veltman, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martinus_Veltman
Martinus J. G. Veltman, The Nobel Prize in Physics 1999,http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1999/veltman-autobio.html
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