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

Pre 1900









Erwin Schrodinger* (1887-1961)

8/14/1887. Born, Vienna Austria- only child. Father was a broadly educated person in chemistry, botany and Italian art.
Mother was the daughter of father’s chemistry teacher.
During Gymnasium years, showed strengths in scientific disciplines and German poetry.

1906-10, U. Vienna (Hasennohrl).  Mastered eigenvalue problems in physics of continuous media. 

, Ph.D., Physics, U. Vienna

1914-18, Austro-Hungarian Army-Artillery Officer

1920, U. Vienna, Assistant to Max Wien
1920-21, U. Stuttgart, Extraordinary Professor
1920-21, U. Breslau, Professor
1921-27, U. Zurich, Chair, Theoretical Physics
1/1926, Development of Wave equation for particles.  Foundation of quantum mechanics.

1927-33, U. Berlin, Chair of Theoretical Physics (Replaced M. Planck). Left due to Nazi takeover of Germany. 
1933-Nobel Prize (with Dirac)

1933-36, Oxford U., Professor
1936-38, U. Graz (Austria), Professor
1938,Escaped to Italy after Nazi occupation of Austria and then to Princeton U. for short time.

1938-55, Institute of Advanced Studies-Dublin, Director, School of Theoretical Physics

1956, Retired to Vienna, Austria with high honors.

, Died, Vienna (74)

A brilliant physicist but never tried to achieve a specific goal nor followed any project extensively.  He found it difficult to work with others, especially his own pupils.  Another brilliant career cut short because of the Nazis rise in Europe.

Louis Victor Pierre Raymond Duc deBroglie*

8/5/1892,  Born, Dieppe into a family of former French nobility.  Became Prince de Broglie upon older brother’s death.

1905-1909, attended Lycee Janson de Sailly (secondary school) in Paris.

, Sorbonne, History Major.  Intended a career in the French diplomatic service.
1910, Graduated with B.A. degree but decided to continue studies in theoretical physics.
1913, Awarded Licence es Sciences degree.

1914-1918, WWI, Enlisted in Army, assigned to wireless telegraph unit on the Eiffel tower. Developed an interest in radio waves and electromagnetic radiation.

, Resumed studies at Sorbonne.
1924, Ph.D. Thesis “Researches on Quantum Theory” proposed that matter (especially electrons) has properties of both particles and waves.  This discovery was the basis for the development of wave mechanics by Schrodinger and Dirac and Bohr’s Complementarity  principle.
1927, Wave nature of electrons experimentally confirmed by C.J. Davisson, et al.
1924-62, Remained at the Sorbonne.
1928, Professor, Theor. Phys.  Henri Poincare Inst.
1929, Nobel Prize, “ Discovery of the wave nature of electrons” .
1932, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Faculte de Sciences, Sorbonne.
His work during his career at the Sorbonne covered the extension of wave mechanics, Dirac’s electron theory, the new theory of light particle spin and applications to nuclear physics, all of which were extensions and refinements of others work.

1945, Advisor, French Atomic Energy Commission.

1962, Retired

De Broglie is another example of a very young physicist (in this case a doctoral student) who made a tremendously original discovery and thereafter becomes absorbed in academia for the rest of his career and contributed nothing but refinements of others’ work.  He characterized himself as a pure theoretician looking at the general and philosophical view of physics.  He believed that the statistical nature of atomic physics reflected an ignorance of underlying theory, which eluded experimental techniques.
(Lore has it that de Broglie’s doctoral advisor did not understand his thesis but passed him because of his family’s titled position.  However, the advisor sent the paper to Einstein who also did not fully comprehend its importance but passed it on to Schrodinger who immediately grasped the concept and thereby developed wave mechanics.)

3/19/1987, Died, Paris (95)

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