Biographies

Niels Bohr, father of the atomic bomb

Niels Bohr, father of the atomic bomb

Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist who studied the structure of the atom and won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1922.

Niels Henrik David Bohr He was born in Copenhagen on October 7, 1885 and died on November 18, 1962. His main contribution to science was his work on the compression of the structure of the atom and quantum mechanics. He is also known for being one of the parents of the atomic bomb.

Neils was the son of an important Danish family. His father was a professor of physiology and his mother belonged to a family of bankers and politicians. After pursuing his studies in Physics at the University of Copenaghue, Bohr moved to England to study at the prestigious Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, next to the prestigious chemist Joseph John Thomson, discoverer of the electron.

However, he left the Cavendish Laboratory to study at the University of Manchester, under the tutelage of another Nobel Prize, Ernest Rutherford, expanding his knowledge on radioactivity and atom models. Both scientists maintained a lasting friendship and collaborated in many projects and investigations.

Thus, in 1913, Niels Bohr published a series of essays in which he showed his model of the structure of the atom, with which he achieved fame. And, according to Bohr, the internal movements of the atom are governed by laws outside traditional physics.

According to its atom model, the number of electrons that revolve around the nucleus is increasing from the inside out. Electrons can fall from one orbital to a more inner one and, in doing so, emit a photon. Based on these findings, other scientists explained that light is both a wave and a particle.

In 1916 Niels Bohr returned to Copenaghue to occupy a position of Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University. He also managed to raise funds for the foundation in 1920 of the Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics, which he digested until the date of his death. Already in 1922, Niels Bohr won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on atomic structure and radiation. One of his most famous disciples was Werner Heisenberg, which won the Nobel Prize in Physics ten years later, in 1932.

During the thirties, Bohr spent a lot of time in the United States, bringing the first news about nuclear fission. He also worked with the scientist J.A. Wheeler at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies for 5 months, announcing that both plutonium and uranium were fissile. He held several interesting debates with Albert Einstein on the laws of Relativity and Quantum Physics.

In 1943, and as a result of the Nazi invasion in Copenhagen during World War II, he was forced to leave his country. He was first in Sweden, then in London and finally took refuge in the United States under the name of Nicholas Baker.

Convinced that the Nazis were very close to getting a nuclear weapon, Niels Bohr actively collaborated in the Manhattan Project which resulted in the manufacture of the first atomic bomb.

Once the war was over, Bohr returned to Denmark, became a passionate advocate for disarmament and assisted in the creation of CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) in Geneva. From then on he focused on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and organized the first Conference entitled "Atoms for Peace".

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Ernest Rutherford and atomic physicsEnrico Fermi and the first nuclear reactor