Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Axel Meyer
Axel Meyer


NIU mourns Axel Meyer

March 17, 2009

Axel Meyer died Saturday, March 7, at his daughter’s home in Vero Beach, Fla., where he had gone during his struggle with cancer. He was 83.

Meyer is survived by his wife, Cecile, daughters Carla and Linda, son Frederick, sister Greta Rudolph and grandchildren Nicholas Ryan, Madeline Meyer and Sarah Meyer.

He was born March 3, 1926, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and immigrated to New York City in 1930 with his parents Anna and Fred and sisters Greta and Ellen.

Meyer served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He received his bachelor of science degrees from City College of New York, in both mechanical and electrical engineering; his master of science in physics from Georgia Tech in Atlanta; and a doctorate in physics from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

He was a professor of physics at the University of Florida from 1955 to 1959; a researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 1960 to 1967; and a professor of physics at NIU for 26 years.

Meyer’s body of scientific work, as described by lifetime collaborator Hughie Young, was significant in developing the theory of the behavior of liquid metals.

Together they produced more than 32 research publications in physics journals of international standing, along with numerous presentations at international conferences. Their research played an important role in developing a solution to the mysteries of liquid metals. One important paper provided explanation of experimental observations regarding the unique thermodynamic properties of lithium.

Following retirement, Meyer continued teaching “Physics in Society” to students in the NIU Lifetime Learning Institute.

He supported numerous international scientific organizations including Sigma Pi Sigma, American Physical Society, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the Center for Defense Information, Council for a Livable World, Institute for Policy Studies, Nuclear Energy & Resource Service, Sigma Xi, and Union of Concerned Scientists. He was a fellow of the Institute for Physics (British).

Meyer met his wife, Cele, in New York City. They married in 1950. The two had 58 years together, dedicated to raising three children and supporting causes they believed in. He took great pleasure in helping students understand the important role of physics in society and was a leader in exposing and opposing the dangers of nuclear technology, both for weapons and for power generation. He was a proponent of renewable energy sources and conservation. He lived simply and could be seen riding his bike to work year-round.

Meyer was a co-founder with his wife of the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice, and served in many roles over the past 25 years. He was an ardent peace activist, and for the past seven years could be seen Fridays carrying his rainbow flag at the weekly peace vigil on the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway.

HE was a dedicated member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb, having helped to found a similar fellowship in Gainesville, Fla.

A memorial service will be held at the DeKalb Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in June.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations “In memory of Dr. Axel Meyer” to the Nuclear Energy Information Service ( Meyer was grateful to the NEIS for its leadership in limiting the use of nuclear power in Illinois.