Arthur Compton

From Academic Kids

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Time_Cover_Arthur_H_Compton.jpg
Arthur H. Compton on the cover of Time Magazine, January 13, 1936

Arthur Holly Compton (September 10, 1892March 15, 1962) won the Nobel Prize in Physics (1927) for discovery of the effect named after him.

Early years

Arthur Holly Compton was born in Wooster, Ohio in 1892 to Elias and Otelia Compton. They were an academic family; his father Elias Compton was president of a local college. His eldest brother Karl T. Compton also became a physicist, and later president of MIT; his second brother Wilson M. Compton became a diplomat and president of Washington State University.

Around 1913, Compton devised a demonstration method for the Earth's rotation.

In 1918, Compton began studying X-ray scattering. In 1922, Compton found that X-rays wavelength increases due to scattering of the radiant energy by "free electrons". Scattered quanta have less energy than the quanta of the original ray. This discovery, known as the "Compton effect," or "Compton scattering" demonstrates the "particle" concept of electromagnetic radiation and earned Compton the Nobel Prize in physics in 1927. Compton developed the method for observing at the same instant individual scattered X-ray photons and the recoil electrons (developed with Alfred W. Simon). In Germany, Walther Bothe and Hans Geiger independently form a similar method.

Later years

In 1941, along with Vannevar Bush, head of the wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), and Ernest Lawrence, the Berkeley inventor of the cyclotron, Compton helped to take over the then-stagnant American program to develop an atomic bomb. Compton was placed in charge of the OSRD's S-1 Committee charged with investigating the properties and manufacture of uranium. In 1942, Compton appointed Robert Oppenheimer as the Committee's top theorist. When the Committee's work was taken over by the Army in the summer of 1942, it became the Manhattan Project.

Immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Compton gained support for consolidating plutonium research at the University of Chicago and for an ambitious schedule that called for producing the first atomic bomb in January 1945, a goal that was missed by only six months. "Metallurgical Laboratory" or "Met Lab" was the "cover" name given to Compton's facility. Its objectives were to produce chain-reacting "piles" of uranium to convert to plutonium, find ways to separate the plutonium from the uranium and to design a bomb. In December 1942, underneath Chicago's Stagg Field, a team of Met Lab scientists directed by Enrico Fermi achieved a sustained chain reaction in the world's first nuclear reactor. Throughout the war, Compton would remain a prominent scientific advisor and administrator.

Compton is buried in the Wooster Cemetery in Wooster, Ohio.

See also

es:Arthur Compton fr:Arthur Compton it:Arthur Compton ja:アーサー・コンプトン pl:Arthur Holly Compton ru:Комптон, Артур Холли

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