Influential Atomic and Nuclear Physicists of the 20th Century
*Denotes Nobel Laureate

Pre 1900










Max Born* (1882-1970)

12/11/1882-Born, Breslau, Germany
Father, Professor of Anatomy and Embryology.
Mother, Daughter of a Silesian industrialist.
Early schooling: Koenig Gymnasium, Breslau.

, U. Breslau (Rosanes-Math.)
1902-03, U. Heidelberg

1903-04, U. Zurich (Hurwitz-Math.)

1904-07, U. Gottingen (Klein, Hilbert, Minkowski)
1907, Ph.D. Gottingen
1908, Cambridge U. Cavendish Labs (Thomson)
1909, U. Breslau (Lummer, Pringsheim)
1909-14, U. Gottingen (Minkowski)

1914-18, German Army

1919-21, U Frankfort, Professor, Theor. Physics
Assistant, O. Stern*

1921-1933, U. Gottingen, Chair of Theor. Physics
One of four main schools of physics in Europe. Also the most productive period of Born’s career.
Produced papers with Heisenberg and Jordan on matrix mechanics and individually, on statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Associates and students included Pauli*, Heisenberg*, Jordan, Fermi*, Dirac*, Weisskopf, Oppenheimer. (Leaves because of Nazi takeover of Germany).

1933-36, Cambridge U., Professor
1936-1954, U. Edinburgh, Professor

1954, Nobel Prize, "Statistical Interpretation of Wave Functions”
1954-1970, Retired, Bad Pyrmont, Germany

1970, Died, Bad Pyrmont, Germany (82)

A talented theoretical physicist who as a teacher and educator at U. Gottingen during his most productive years of 1921-33 surrounded himself with the most promising young assistants and graduate students, 24 of whom earned their PhDs with Born during this exciting period of the quantum revolution in which Gottingen was the center. His career was sadly displaced by the Nazi rise to power in 1933.

Niels Bohr* (1885-1962)
10/17/1885, Born, Copenhagen, Denmark
Father, Professor of Physiology.
Mother, Daughter of wealthy Jewish banker.
Bohr was a bright, imaginative child but as he grew up he developed difficulty in writing, which plagued him his entire life. He developed limiting anxieties  and procrastination which caused difficulty in his completing projects throughout his career.

, U. Copenhagen, Student in math and physics. Completed experimental work and published first paper that was accepted by the Royal Society in London in 1909.

1911, Ph.D., “Studies on Electron Theory of Metals”
9/1911, Cambridge U., Cavendish Lab (Thomson)
3/1912-16, U. Manchester (Rutherford)
1913, Paper on Quantum Structure of the Atom
4/1916, U. Copenhagen, Chair- Theoretical Physics

, Formation of the Institute of Theoretical
Physics (later named Neils Bohr Institute).
1922, Nobel Prize, “Constitution of Atoms and

1927, Complimentarity Principle

1943, Escaped to England due to pending Nazi imprisonment
1943-46, Consultant to atom bomb projects
Tried to convince Roosevelt and Groves to make the atom bomb secrets publicly available to circumvent a cold war.
1946-62, Return as Director, Niels Bohr Institute

Spent much of his time in attempting to influence world policy on nuclear control and disarmament.

11/18/1962, Died, Copenhagen, Denmark (77)

Bohr’s mentor was Ernest Rutherford and his years at U. Manchester with Rutherford were his most formative. His 1913 paper on the Quantum Structure of the Atom on which Rutherford advised, was the major break from classical atomic physics that opened the door to the flow of ideas during the next 25 years , which created the evolution of quantum theory. The Institute of Theoretical Physics established in Copenhagen that Bohr founded and ran became one of the centers for the development of atomic and nuclear physics in Europe in the first half century and all atomic physicists of the day spent time studying at the school. After WWII, Bohr spent his time trying to influence international nuclear policy.

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