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William A. Fowler

William A. FowlerAKA William Alfred Fowler

Born: 9-Aug-1911
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, PA
Died: 14-Mar-1995
Location of death: Pasadena, CA
Cause of death: Kidney failure

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

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Element generation within stars

Military service: National Defense Research Committee, 1941-45

American astronomer William A. Fowler investigated fusion reactions, a process known as nucleosynthesis, which concerns the physics of how lighter chemical element nuclei fuse to create the heavier nuclei. He also studied gravitational collapse, light elements, neutrinos, nucleocosmochronology, and supernovae. With Fred Hoyle and the husband and wife team of Geoffrey and E. Margaret Burbidge, he authored the landmark 1957 paper "Synthesis of the Elements in the Stars", which shed light on the Big Bang by showing that any and all known elements could be produced by nuclear reactions in stars. He shared the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

During World War II he worked on the Manhattan Project, the American effort culminating in the development of atomic weapons. He was known to friends and colleagues as Willy. Born in Pittsburgh, he was a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Father: John MacLeod Fowler (accountant)
Mother: Jennie Summers Watson Fowler
Brother: Arthur Watson Fowler (mechanical engineer)
Sister: Nelda Fowler Wood
Wife: Ardiane Foy Olmsted (m. 24-Aug-1940, d. 1988, two daughters)
Daughter: Mary Emily Fowler Galowin
Daughter: Martha Fowler Schoenemann
Wife: Mary Dutcher (m. 1989)

    High School: Lima Central High School, Lima, OH (1929)
    University: BS Engineering Physics, Ohio State University (1933)
    University: PhD Nuclear Physics, California Institute of Technology (1936, summa cum laude)
    Fellow: Physics, California Institute of Technology (1936-39)
    Lecturer: Physics, California Institute of Technology (1939-42)
    Teacher: Physics, California Institute of Technology (1942-46)
    Professor: Nuclear Physics, California Institute of Technology (1946-70)
    Fellow: Cambridge University (1954-55)
    Fellow: St. Johns College, Cambridge University (1961-62)
    Professor: Institute Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology (1970-82)
    Scholar: Kellogg Radiation Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (1934-82)

    Presidential Medal for Merit 1948
    Guggenheim Fellowship 1954-55
    Guggenheim Fellowship 1961-62
    Barnard Medal 1965
    APS Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics 1970
    G. Unger Vetlesen Prize 1973
    National Medal of Science 1974
    Eddington Medal 1978
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1983 (with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar)
    French Legion of Honor 1989
    American Astronomical Society
    American Institute of Physics
    American Physical Society President (1976)
    Manhattan Project
    National Academy of Sciences 1956
    National Science Foundation
    Royal Astronomical Society Foreign Member
    Society of American Baseball Research
    Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
    Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity
    US Energy Department Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (1977-81)
    Asteroid Namesake 12137 Williefowler
    Irish Ancestry Maternal
    Scottish Ancestry Paternal

Author of books:
The Origin of the Elements (1958, selected papers)
Nucleosynthesis During the Early History of the Solar System (1961)
Nucleosynthesis in Massive Stars and Supernovae (1964, with Fred Hoyle)
Neutrino Astrophysics (1965)


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