Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1919 to 1927

About the Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1919 to 1927 including the scientists Bohr and Einstein, their works, and history.


1919 Johannes Stark (1874-1957), German

Work: Discovery of how spectral lines in an electrical field divide, now known as the Stark effect

1920 Charles E. Guillaume (1861-1938), French (b. Switzerland)

Work: Discovery of certain irregularities in nickel-steel alloys

1921 Albert Einstein (1879-1955), American (b. Germany)

Work: Overall contribution to theoretical physics, especially his work on the photoelectric effect

1922 Niels H. D. Bohr (1885-1962), Danish

Work: Study of the structure and radiation of atoms

Nobel Laureate: Born in Copenhagen, Bohr, after achieving national fame as a college soccer star, took his physics degrees to England to begin research at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory. In 1912 he transferred to a Manchester lab, where he used Planck's theories to gain revolutionary insights into atomic properties--insights which earned him, besides the Nobel Prize, the title of "founder of modern atomic theory." On the eve of W. W. II, he was working with Einstein at Princeton, where the pair laid the first tentative plans for the atomic bomb. He then returned to Denmark, but closed down his workshop there in protest of the Nazi occupation of that country. Out of fear of arrest or, worse yet, of being shanghaied into nuclear research for the Nazis, he packed up all his nuclear secrets and sneaked out of the country on a fishing boat to Sweden. Under prior arrangements made by the Danish underground, Bohr was taken into protective custody by Swedish authorities. Nearly three weeks later he was smuggled to England in the bomb bay of a British warplane. After the war he was instrumental in setting up the first Atoms for Peace Conference in Geneva. Albert Einstein once said of him, "Personally, Bohr is one of the most amiable colleagues I have met. He utters his opinions like one perpetually groping and never like one who believes himself to be in the possession of definite truth."

1923 Robert A. Millikan (1868-1953), American

Work: Research into electrons and the photoelectric effect

1924 Karl M. G. Siegbahn (1886- ), Swedish

Work: Discoveries in X-ray spectroscopy

1925 James Franck (1882-1964), German

Gustav Hertz (1887-1975), German

Work: Discovery of laws governing the collisions between atoms and electrons

1926 Jean B. Perrin (1870-1942), French

Work: Research into the discontinuity in the structure of matter, especially his discovery of the equilibrium of sedimentation

1927 Arthur Compton (1892-1962), American

Work: Discovery of the Compton effect, i.e., the impact of electrons on X rays upon collision

Charles T. R. Wilson (1869-1959), British

Work: Invention of the cloud chamber

Nobel Laureates: Born in Wooster, O., Compton graduated from the local college and picked up his Ph. D. from Princeton in 1916. After teaching physics in a few universities in the U.S. and England, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1923. That year he published proof of the so-called Compton effect, which experimentally confirmed Planck's quantum theory. Cosmic rays began to attract his attention shortly after he won the Nobel Prize, and he headed up a global survey on the subject. During W. W. II, he supervised the metallurgical team on the Manhattan atomic bomb project. Deeply religious, he wrote extensively on the reconciliation of the sometimes conflicting interests of science and morality. He died a year after his retirement in Berkeley, Calif.

Wilson was born in Scotland, the son of a farmer. He became interested in a wide range of sciences but finally settled on physics for his Ph.D. from Cambridge. At 26 he began to specialize in the physics of everyday precipitation, rain and snow. From his studies he learned that he could trace the movement of charged particles if he released them in a closed container packed with water vapor. Under pressure, the ions would react with the vapor and leave in their wake a wispy cloud stream visible under intense light. He called his container a cloud chamber.

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