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Owen Willans Richardson

Owen Willans RichardsonBorn: 26-Apr-1879
Birthplace: Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England
Died: 15-Feb-1959
Location of death: Alton, Hampshire, England
Cause of death: unspecified

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

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Electron emissions of metals

British physicist Owen Willans Richardson made advancements in the scientific understanding of emission of electrons from hot surfaces, and coined the term thermionics for this work. In 1901 he presented Richardson's law, which mathematically describes the relation between increases in the temperature of a hot surface and the amount of electric current released. In a 1911 study he proved that electrons are emitted from metal as it is heated, not from the surrounding air, as had previously been assumed. In 1928 he won the Nobel Prize for Physics. His work was vital in the development of vacuum or electron tubes used in 20th century electronic devices.

He also explained that a body's magnetism is caused by its electrons' movements, a phenomenon now termed the Richardson-Einstein-de Haas effect. His other areas of study included the emission of electrons by chemical action, electron theory, quantum theory, photoelectric action, radar, soft X-rays, and the spectrum of molecular hydrogen. His sister, Charlotte Sara Richardson, married Nobel laureate Clinton Davisson.

Father: Joshua Henry Richardson (woolmaker)
Mother: Charlotte Maria Richardson
Sister: Charlotte Sara Richardson (m. Clinton Davisson)
Wife: Lilian Maud Wilson (m. 1906, d. 1945, two sons, one daughter)
Wife: Henriette Rupp (physicist, m. 1948)

    High School: Batley Grammar School, Batley, UK (1897)
    University: Trinity College, Cambridge University (1900)
    Scholar: Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University (1900-06)
    Fellow: Trinity College, Cambridge University (1902)
    University: DSc Physics, University of London (1904)
    Professor: Physics, Princeton University (1906-13)
    Professor: Wheatstone Professor of Physics, King's College, University of London (1914-44)

    Nobel Prize for Physics 1928
    Hughes Medal 1920
    Knight of the British Empire 1939
    American Philosophical Society 1911 (Foreign Member)
    British Association for the Advancement of Science Section A President (1921)
    Institute of Physics President (1926-28)
    Royal Society 1913
    Royal Society Yarrow Research Professor (1926-44)
    English Ancestry
    Lunar Crater Richardson (31.1 N 100.5 E, 141 km. diameter)

Author of books:
The Emission of Electricity from Hot Bodies (1910, physics)
The Electron Theory of Matter (1914, physics)
Molecular Hydrogen and Its Spectrum (1934, physics)


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