AKA Willis Eugene Lamb, Jr.
Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Location of death: Tucson, AZ
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Detailed the hydrogen spectrum
Willis Lamb Jr. was an American physicist whose main area of research was quantum mechanics. In 1955 Lamb won the Nobel Prize for physics "for discoveries concerning the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum" that led to refinements of the quantum theories of electromagnetic phenomena. More specifically, Lamb's work disproved the predictions of Paul Dirac, which stipulated that the hydrogen atom existed in either of two distinct states carrying equal energies. Through the use of more sophisticated microwave techniques, which he himself invented, Lamb was able to measure the lines in the hydrogen spectrum with far greater accuracy than had ever been done before, revealing that in fact there was a slight discrepancy, or inequality –- now known as "the Lamb shift".
Lamb received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1934 at the University of California at Berkeley then went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics in 1938, having carried out his doctoral research on the electromagnetic properties of nuclear systems, working under the direction of Robert Oppenheimer. He then taught physics at Columbia University, finally becoming a full professor in 1948. From 1943 to 1951 he was associated with the Columbia Radiation Laboratory where he conducted his prize-winning research.
After leaving Columbia he taught for a year or two each at Stanford and Harvard before settling in for a longer stint at Oxford (1956-62). Lamb spent the next twelve years teaching physics at Yale, and then, in 1974 he accepted a position as professor of physics and optical sciences at the University of Arizona. In 1983 began work with Arizona Research Laboratories. He was a Regents Professor at the University of Arizona after 1989. Lamb was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Father: Willis Eugene Lamb
Mother: Marie Helen Metcalf
Wife: Ursula Schaefer (m. 1939)
University: BS Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley (1934)
University: PhD Physics, University of California at Berkeley (1938)
Professor: Columbia University
Professor: Oxford University (1956-62)
Rumford Prize 1953
Nobel Prize for Physics 1955
National Academy of Sciences
American Physical Society
Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
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