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 Niels Bohr

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Niels Bohr

  • Birth 7 Oct 1885 Copenhagen, Kobenhavns Kommune, Hovedstaden, Denmark
  • Death 18 Nov 1962 Copenhagen, Kobenhavns Kommune, Hovedstaden, Denmark
  • Burial Copenhagen, Kobenhavns Kommune, Hovedstaden, Denmark
  • Memorial ID 8735

Scientist. He was always a bright student even at a young age, and during his last two years of secondary school focused on physics and mathematics. Evidence suggests that his mathematics teacher soon realized that he didn't know the material as well as young Niels did, and that this frightened him. In his physics class the young man also would read ahead in the assigned textbooks, sometimes finding errors and mistakes in them. In 1903 he entered the University of Copenhagen, majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics, chemistry, and astronomy. Since there wasn't a physics laboratory at the university, he had to carry out his experiments in his father's physiology laboratory. The first physics paper he wrote while at university was based on an experiment conducted in this laboratory, with the text dictated to his younger brother Harald (who became a famous mathematician), from whom he was inseparable. This paper, which analyzed the vibrations of water jets to determine surface tension, won Bohr the Gold Medal from the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences in 1906. Three years later he got his Master's Degree, and in 1911 he got his doctorate for the thesis "Studies on the Electron Theory of Metals." A year after getting his doctorate, he married Margrethe Norlund, around the same time he had become friends with the scientist Ernest Rutherford, with whom he was conducting experiements on atoms. In 1917 he was elected to the Danish Academy of Sciences, at which point he began planning an Institute of Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen. This idea came to fruition in 1921, whereupon he became its director for the rest of his life. In 1922 Bohr won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in quantum physics, radiation, and atomic structures. Other of his important contributions to the field of physics include a theoretical description of the periodic table in 1920, his theory that the atomic nucleus is a compound structure (1936), and his understanding of uranium fission as related to isotope 235 (1939). When the Nazis invaded his native Denmark in 1940, Bohr's life became increasingly difficult, for though he had been baptized in the Danish church, his mother, Ellen Adler, had been Jewish. In 1943, he and his family were among the people smuggled to Sweden in fishing boats on the eve of the planned Nazi roundup of all of the Jews in Denmark. Once safely reaching Sweden, Bohr flew to England, where he began working on a project to create a nuclear fission bomb. Several months later, he and the rest of the British research team departed for Los Alamos in the United States. Even though he was working on this project to develop the nuclear fission bomb, Bohr was gravely concerned about its power and potential impact, and from 1944 on tried to convince Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt that international cooperation was very important. In 1950 he wrote a letter to the U.N., arguing for peaceful and rational policies in regards to atomic power and the bomb. For his work on behalf of this cause, he won the first U.S. Atoms for Peace Award in 1957. He died of a heart attack at home at the age of seventy-seven.

Bio by: Carrie-Anne

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 7 Mar 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8735
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Niels Bohr (7 Oct 1885–18 Nov 1962), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8735, citing Assistens Cemetery, Copenhagen, Kobenhavns Kommune, Hovedstaden, Denmark ; Maintained by Find A Grave .