Archives of Rolf Hagedorn

Identity Statement [Top]

Reference code(s)



Archives of Rolf Hagedorn


1954 to 1987

Level of description


Extent of the unit of description

9 Items, 1 linear meter, 5 Boxes

Context [Top]

Name of creator

Rolf Hagedorn (1919-2003)

Biographical history

German physicist Rolf Hagedorn studied physics and mathematics at Göttingen and graduated with a diploma in 1950 and a doctorate in 1952 on thermal solid-state theory, under Richard Becker.

He worked as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPI).

In 1954 following a recommendation from Werner Heisenberg, who was director at MPI at the time, Hagedorn took up an appointment at CERN to help with particle accelerator designs, particularly to calculate non-linear oscillations in particle orbits.

He joined the CERN Theory Group after its transfer from Copenhagen to Geneva in 1957.

As an accelerator physicist Hagedorn developed the theoretical predictions for the particle spectra observed when CERN’s Proton Synchrotron (PS) first began operation; was important for the optimization of secondary beams. He then developed the statistical theory of meson production in considerable detail up to very high energies, and found that one should expect a limiting temperature in hadronic collisions, the ‘Hagedorn temperature’. This has had a major impact on theoretical thinking and on understanding of the properties of hot hadronic matter. It is applicable to any exponentially rising particle mass spectrum, and so also influenced the development of string theories.

Among his contributions to CERN, Hagedorn developed one of the earliest user-friendly interactive computing programs for algebraic manipulations, the SIGMA. (Source: CERN Bulletin March 2003 – 14/2003)

He retired in 1984.

He continued his research after retirement, making pertinent contributions in developments in the field of relativistic heavy ion collisions. He died in March 2003.

Source :
CERN Courier September 2003 “The Tale of Hagedorn temperature”
CERN Courier September 2003 "Orbituaries”

Hagedorn's publications

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received from Nadine Perrin, Physics-Theory Department (PH-TH) Secretariat in February 2013.

Content & Structure [Top]

Scope and content

The documents in this collection were created or compiled by Rolf Hagedorn during the years 1954 - 1987.

  • Letters Thermodynamics: A-K, 1967-1987
  • Notes and reference Statistical Bootstrap, CERN Seminar transparencies (copies) 1973
  • Nuclear matter: Model (ERICE version), evaluation, dictionary/data, results, programs, various notes, chemical potential, volume and first attempts
  • Miscellaneous: notes and organizations, circulars, letters between organizations, letters and signatures, 1982-1984

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Nothing was destroyed.


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

The original order has been preserved.

Conditions of access and use [Top]

Conditions governing access

See file level description and the CERN operational circular No 3: rules applicable to archival material and archiving at CERN. In general, records on any subject that are over 30 years old, and all records of a purely scientific nature, may be consulted.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is retained by CERN, no reproduction without permission.

Language / scripts of material

Most of the material is written in English and German.

Finding aids

Listed to file level in the CERN Archives Database.

Description control [Top]

Archivist's note

Description prepared by Sandrine Reyes

Date(s) of description

Geneva, the 25th May 2020