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Patrick M. S. Blackett

Patrick M. S. BlackettAKA Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett

Born: 18-Nov-1897
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 13-Jul-1974
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: unspecified

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

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Cosmic radiation, continental drift

Military service: Royal Navy (1914-19, to Lieutenant)

British physicist Patrick M. S. Blackett studied under Ernest Rutherford and improved C. T. R. Wilson's cloud chamber, redesigning it as a mechanism for automated study of cosmic radiation. In 1924, eight of his cloud chamber photographs showed disintegration of a nitrogen nuclei by alpha particles, the first photographic evidence of nuclear transformation. in 1932, in collaboration with Giuseppe P. S. Occhialini (1907-1993), he designed the counter-controlled cloud chamber and used it to show that positive electrons in cosmic ray showers are caused by pair production. He also made contributions to the field of magnetism, inventing the astatic magnetometer in 1947, a device for measuring the very small amount of magnetic fields associated with magnetic minerals, which provided evidence to support continental drift theory.

Blackett won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1948, but he became a controversial figure in the years after World War II. He wrote a book arguing that the United States had developed atomic weapons for their potential use against the Soviet Union, more than for their immediate war-time use against the Japanese. He spoke out against nuclear proliferation until his death in 1974, and served as an unofficial advisor to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Father: Arthur Stuart Blackett
Mother: Caroline Frances Maynard Blackett
Wife: Constanza Bayon (m. 1924, one son, one daughter)

    High School: Osborne Naval College, Isle of Wright, England (1914)
    University: BA, Cambridge University (1921)
    Scholar: Physics, Cambridge University (1921-24)
    Scholar: Physics, University of Göttingen (1924-25)
    Scholar: Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University (1925-33)
    Professor: Physics, Birkback College, University of London (1933-37)
    Professor: Langworthy Professor of Physics, University of Manchester (1937-53)
    Professor: Physics, Imperial College London (1953-63)
    Administrator: Pro-Rector, Imperial College London (1963-74)

    Royal Medal 1940
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1948
    Copley Medal 1956
    Order of the Companions of Honour 1965
    Order of Merit 1967
    Life Peerage 1969 as Baron Blackett of Chelsea
    Royal Society President, 1965-70
    UK Official Director of Naval Operational Research, 1940-45

Author of books:
Military and Political Consequences of Atomic Energy (aka Fear, War, and the Bomb) (1948, political science)
Atomic Weapons and East-West Relations (1956, political science)
Studies of War (1962, political science)


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