Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1937 to 1948

About the Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1937 to 1948 including the scientists Fermi and Lawrence, their works, and history.


1937 Clinton J. Davisson (1881-1958), American

George P. Thomson (1892-1975), British

Work: Discovery of the diffraction of electrons by crystals

1938 Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), American (b. Italy)

Work: Research into radioactive elements, especially those artificial ones created by neutron bombardment

Nobel Laureate: A native of Rome, Fermi turned from theoretical to experimental physics in 1934. Looking for an element which would change into a new, altogether different element under the bombardment of neutrons, he tested the entire periodic table of elements from hydrogen on down until the last one, uranium, finally responded. Although he was not quite sure at first what he had done, it eventually became clear that he had split the atom. During W.W. II, he was instrumental in the development of the American atomic bomb. In 1954, shortly before his death, he was awarded the first Atomic Energy Commission Prize of $25,000--an award now known as the Fermi Prize.

Nobel Lore: The Nobel Prize could not have come at a better time for Fermi. As Fascist Italy began drafting the anti-Semitic laws already in effect in Germany, Fermi feared for the safety of his Jewish wife and children. Already he was trying to figure out a way to escape Mussolini, who would never allow such a world-renowned scientist to emigrate freely. Then came the news from Sweden. Mussolini, convinced that his superrace theories had been vindicated by this Italian genius, permitted Fermi to go to Stockholm to accept the prize. This Fermi did, with his family in tow. Refusing to greet the king of Sweden with the Fascist salute, Fermi picked up his check and kept on walking--to the U.S. and a physics post at Columbia University. II Duce was not pleased.

1939 Ernest O. Lawrence (1901-1958), American

Work: Invention of the cyclotron

1940 No award

1941 No award

1942 No award

1943 Otto Stern (1888-1969), American (b. Germany)

Work: Study of the magnetic properties of atoms; discovery of the magnetic moment of the proton

1944 Isidor Isaac Rabi (1898- ), American (b. Austria)

Work: Discovered how to record the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei

1945 Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958), American (b. Austria)

Work: Discovery of the Pauli exclusion principle, that no two electrons can occupy the same orbit about an atom

1946 Percy Williams Bridgman (1882-1961), American

Work: Research in high-pressure physics

1947 Edward V. Appleton (1892-1965), British

Work: Research into the physics of the upper atmosphere, including the discovery of the Appleton layer in the ionosphere

1948 Patrick M. S. Blackett (1897-1974), British

Work: Improvement of the Wilson cloud-chamber method and resulting discoveries in nuclear physics and cosmic rays

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