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Niels Bohr

Niels BohrAKA Niels Henrik David Bohr

Born: 7-Oct-1885
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: 18-Nov-1962
Location of death: Copenhagen, Denmark
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, Assistens Cemetery, Copenhagen, Denmark

Gender: Male
Religion: Lutheran
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Denmark
Executive summary: Father of Quantum Theory

Danish physicist Niels Bohr studied under J. J. Thomson, who discouraged his ideas, and under Ernest Rutherford, whose work was expanded by Bohr into a new theory on the structure of the atom in 1913. Bohr postulated that electrons travel in fixed orbits around the atom's nucleus, and further explained how electrons emit or absorb energy, work that earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr's atomic diagram held that the outer orbits hold more electrons than inner orbits, that atoms traveling from one orbit to another emit tiny amounts of radiation, and that these orbits determine chemical properties of an atom.

Bohr's theory, elaborated and expanded by other physicists, formed the basis for the developing science of quantum mechanics. He is best known for two concepts the correspondence principle, and the complementarity principle. The former holds that to untangle the contradictions between "old" and "new" physics, new theories must both describe atomic phenomena correctly and be applicable to conventional phenomena; the latter holds that wave and particle aspects of nature are complementary and can never both be true simultaneously.

Though raised and baptized a Christian, his mother was Jewish, and Bohr fled Denmark during World War II, coming to America, where he worked on the Manhattan Project. After the war he became an outspoken activist against nuclear weapons and for the peaceful use of atomic energy. He was also a co-founder of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Bohr's brother, mathematician Harald August Bohr (1887-1951), developed a theory of "almost periodic" functions, and won a Silver Medal playing soccer for the Danish national team in the 1908 Olympics. Niels Bohr's son, Aage N. Bohr, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975 for describing the collective model of the atomic nucleus.

Father: Christian Bohr (lecturer in physiology)
Mother: Ellen Adler Bohr (b. 7-Oct-1860, m. 1881)
Sister: Jennifer ("Jenny", b. 1883)
Brother: Harald August Bohr (mathematician, b. 1887, d. 22-Jan-1951)
Wife: Margrethe Norlund (m. 1-Aug-1912, six sons)
Son: Aage N. Bohr (physicist and Nobel Laureate, b. 19-Jun-1922, d. 8-Sep-2009)
Son: Erik Bohr (chemist)
Son: Ernest Bohr (attorney)
Son: Hans Henrik Bohr (physician)

    High School: Gammelholm Grammar School, Copenhagen (1903)
    University: MA Physics, University of Copenhagen (1909)
    University: PhD Physics, University of Copenhagen (1911)
    Lecturer: Physics, University of Copenhagen (1913-14)
    Lecturer: Physics, Victoria University of Manchester (1914-16)
    Professor: Theoretical Physics, University of Copenhagen (1916-62)
    Administrator: Institute of Theoretical Physics, University of Copenhagen (1920-62)

    Nobel Prize for Physics 1922
    Hughes Medal 1921
    Matteucci Medal 1923
    Copley Medal 1938
    United States Atoms for Peace Award 1957
    Sonning Prize 1961
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences Foreign Honorary Member
    American Philosophical Society 1940
    CERN Co-Founder (1954)
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences
    Royal Danish Academy of Sciences 1917
    Royal Danish Academy of Sciences President (1938-62)
    Royal Institution of Great Britain (Foreign Member)
    Royal Society 1926 (Foreign Member)
    Royal Society of Edinburgh 1927 (Foreign Member)
    Manhattan Project
    Stroke
    Chemical Element Namesake bohrium (Bh, 107)
    Lunar Crater Bohr (12.8N 86.4W, 71 km. diameter)
    Asteroid Namesake 3948 Bohr
    Danish Ancestry Paternal
    Jewish Ancestry Maternal

Author of books:
The Philosophical Writings of Niels Bohr (1987, essays; three volumes)
Niels Bohr: Collected Works (2008, thirteen volumes)


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