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Arthur H. Compton

Arthur H. ComptonAKA Arthur Holly Compton

Born: 10-Sep-1892
Birthplace: Wooster, OH
Died: 15-Mar-1962
Location of death: Berkeley, CA
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, Wooster Cemetery, Wooster, OH

Gender: Male
Religion: Baptist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist, Educator

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Discovered the Compton Effect

American scientist Arthur H. Compton was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1927, for his 1923 explanation of what is now called the Compton effect, the manner in which the wavelength of x-rays and other forms of electromagnetic radiation are altered as they collide with electrons. In coining the new term photon, Compton theorized that as a photon of light strikes an electron, the electron recoils and seizes some energy from the photon, thereby increasing its length. His formula accurately predicts the change of wavelength produced in secondary x-rays, and helped confirm the wave-particle duality as theorized by Louis de Broglie.

He was later a driving force in establishment of the Manhattan Project to develop nuclear weapons, and played a key role in planning and supervision of early nuclear power generators. As chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis in the 1940s and '50s, he ended athletic scholarships and resisted racial integration at that institution. His brother, Karl T. Compton, was the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Father: Elias Compton (philosophy professor, b. 8-Aug-1857, d. 2-May-1938)
Mother: Otelia Catheryne Augspurger Compton (b. 6-Feb-1858, d. 15-Dec-1944)
Brother: Karl Taylor Compton (President of MIT, b. 15-Sep-1887, d. 22-Jun-1954)
Sister: Mary Elesia Compton (Christian missionary, b. 26-Apr-1889, d. 27-Jun-1961)
Brother: Wilson Martindale Compton (President of WSU, b. 15-Oct-1890, d. 7-Mar-1967)
Wife: Betty Charity McCloskey (college sweetheart, m. 28-Jun-1916, d. 21-Nov-1980, two sons)
Son: Arthur Allen Compton (foreign service)
Son: John Joseph Compton (philosophy professor)

    High School: Wooster High School, Wooster, OH (1909)
    University: BS, College of Wooster (1913)
    University: MA Physics, Princeton University (1914)
    University: PhD Physics, Princeton University (1916)
    Teacher: Physics, University of Minnesota (1916-17)
    Scholar: Physics, Cambridge University (1919-20)
    Professor: Wayman Crow Professor of Physics, Washington University in St. Louis (1920-23)
    Professor: Physics, University of Chicago (1923-45)
    Administrator: Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis (1945-53)
    Professor: Physics, Washington University in St. Louis (1953-61)
    Administrator: Trustee, College of Wooster
    Administrator: Trustee, Fisk University

    Rumford Prize 1926
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1927
    Matteucci Medal 1930
    Hughes Medal 1940
    Benjamin Franklin Medal 1940 (by the Franklin Institute)
    St. Louis Walk of Fame
    General Electric Consulting Physicist (1926-45)
    Westinghouse Research Engineer (1917-19)
    American Association for the Advancement of Science President (1942)
    American Association of Scientific Workers President (1939-40)
    American Philosophical Society
    American Physical Society President (1934)
    Argonne National Laboratory Board of Governors (1945)
    Brookings Institution Board of Trustees (1956-59)
    Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Board of Trustees (1949-53)
    Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Board of Trustees (1953-62)
    Committee for Economic Development Board of Trustees (1949-58)
    Institute of International Education
    National Academy of Sciences Board of Trustees (1949-61)
    National Conference of Christians and Jews Co-Chairman (1938-47), Board of Directors (1947-58)
    National Research Council Fellowship (1919)
    Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents (1950-62)
    Urban League (1954-60)
    Young Men's Christian Association
    Manhattan Project Director, Metallurgical Laboratory
    Lunar Crater Crater Compton (named for Arthur & Karl T. Compton)

Appears on the cover of:
Time, 13-Jan-1936

Author of books:
Secondary Radiations Produced by X-Rays (1922, non-fiction)
X-Rays and Electrons (1926, non-fiction)
The Freedom of Man (1935, non-fiction)
X-Rays in Theory and Experiment (1935, non-fiction, with S.K. Allison)
The Religion of a Scientist (1938, non-fiction)
Human Meaning of Science (1940, non-fiction)
Atomic Quest: A Personal Narrative (1956, memoir)
The Cosmos of Arthur Holly Compton (1967, memoir)
On Going to College (1940, non-fiction)


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