Niels Bohr – Danish physicist
Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist, who received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1922 for the quantum mechanical model of the atom.
Niels Henrik David Bohr was born on October 7, 1885 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was the second of three children of Christian and Ellen Adler Bohr. His father was a professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen. His mother came from a wealthy Jewish family involved in banking, government, and public service.
At an early age Bohr became interested in science. His younger brother Harald later became a mathematician. Both brothers were also excellent soccer players. In 1903, Niels entered the University of Copenhagen.
In 1907, he was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Danish Academy of Science. In 1911, Bohr earned his doctorate.
On August 1, 1912 Bohr married Margrethe Norlund. The couple had six sons. One son, Aage, earned a share of the 1975 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the structure of the atomic nucleus.
In 1920, Bohr founded the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen. It was a powerful force in the shaping of atomic theory.
During the 1920s, Bohr developed two basic concepts, the principles of complementarity and correspondence.
In March, 1922, Bohr published The Structure of the Atoms and the Physical and Chemical Properties of the Elements. Eight months later, Bohr learned that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his theory of atomic structure.
During World War II the Bohrs had to leave Denmark. They made their way to the United States, where both Bohr and his son became engaged in work on the Manhattan Project to build the world’s first atomic bombs.
In 1950, he wrote a letter to the United Nations to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons.
In 1957, Bohr received the first Atoms for Peace Award given by the Ford Foundation.
Niels Bohr died on November 18, 1962 at the age of 77.
For his work Bohr received the Max Planck Medal of the German Physical Society in1930, the Hughes (1921) and Copley (1938) medals of the Royal Society, the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute in1926, and the Faraday Medal of the Chemical Society of London in 1930.
– One day one of Bohr’s guests saw the nailed horseshoe on his door: “You are a great scholar. How can you believe that a horseshoe brings happiness?” Bohr replied with a smile: “Of course, I do not believe, but a horseshoe brings good luck, even those who do not believe!”
– Bohr believed that the main danger for mankind was fascism.
– The great physicist had a reputation as a great athlete – he played football for the national team of Denmark. In Copenhagen he was better known as a player than as a famous physicist.
– During a speech at the Academy of Sciences Bohr was asked: “How did you manage to create a first-class school of physicists?” His answer was: “It worked because I never hesitated to say to my students that I am more stupid than them.” The physicist Evgeny Lifshitz translated these words: “It worked because I was never ashamed to say to my students that they are fools.” Everybody laughed. Lifshitz asked Bohr what he said, and apologized to the audience. Petr Kapitsa said with a smile: “It expresses the fundamental differences between Bohr and Landau school”. Bohr and Landau laughed the loudest.
– Bohr was a foreign member of the USSR Academy of Sciences.