Felix Andries Vening Meinesz

A life shaped by gravity

Felix Vening Meinesz completed his studies in civil engineering at the Delft University of Technology in 1910. He immediately started working for the Dutch national commission for gravity measurement and adjustment. He was engaged in gravity measurements in the Netherlands. His dissertation, which appeared a few years later, dealt with the shortcomings of the equipment used for this purpose. He was keen to improve this.

Vening Meinesz - supported by the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI - developed a new device with which gravity could be measured very accurately. He expanded this concept to a way of measuring gravity at sea as well. In the 1920s and 1930s, he undertook a number of expeditions by submarine. His research and methods were groundbreaking and appealed enormously to the imagination. The appreciation of Vening Meinesz was expressed in four royal decorations, several international honorary doctorates, six medals of honour and no less than thirteen memberships of Academies of Science all over the world.

In addition to his research, he was an extraordinary professor of (among other things) geodesy, first in Utrecht and later in Delft. In addition, he was the KNMI’s chief director from 1945 to 1951. Vening Meinesz retired in 1957. He died almost a decade later at the age of 79.

Dr. Felix Vening Meisz is receiving this award for his pioneering research and methods in the field of measuring gravity.