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NIELS BOHR: Story Of A Great Mathematician And Physician?Find Out!

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Mathematician And Physician


?The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of the profound truth may well be another profound truth.?-Niels Bohr.

The above statement was given by none other than Niels Bohr, one of the greatest scientists and physicist of the 20th century.

Niels Bohr was born on October 7, 1885 in Copenhagen. Right from his childhood, Niels Bohr was exposed to academics. In 1889, he was sent to Grammelholms School and he completed his secondary education in 1903. Early on Niels Bohr was not a brilliant student, often showing no interest in studies. He was more interested in mathematical education and physical education as he loved playing games and outdoor activities.

As years went by, gradually Niels Bohr started showing more interest in academics especially mathematics and physics. With time, he became passionate about these subjects and soon began to do exceptionally well in them.

He went to the University of Copenhagen and studied physics as main subject along with other subjects such as mathematics , astronomy and chemistry. In the year 1906, he was awarded a gold medal from the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences for his experiments with the vibrations of water to determine its surface tension.

While he received his Master?s Degree in 1909, he was simultaneously working for his Doctorate and received it in 1911 from the University of Copenhagen. The subject of his thesis was Studies in Electron Theory of Metals.

Later he went to Cambridge Research Laboratory (Britain) on a scholarship in the year 1911. There he worked under Noble Laureate J.J.Thomson. After sometime, he moved to Victoria University, Manchester and worked under eminent physicist Ernest Rutherford. He was greatly influenced by this man?s theories.

Niels Bohr?s research began with the study of theoretical implication of Rutherford?s nuclear model. Rutherford had shown that the bulk of the mass of an atom resided in the nucleus. As mentioned above, Niels Bohr was highly impressed by Rutherford?s theories and with his help could make rapid progress in his work which resulted in a lot of creative and mental satisfaction. Both these scientists were very much attached to each other and worked in perfect harmony and understanding.

Eventually, Niels Bohr returned to Copenhagen in July 1912 to continue his research independently. However, he kept in touch with his mentor and teacher Rutherford till his death in 1937. In the meanwhile, Niels Bohr worked very hard on the theories of nuclear atom and quantum of Max Planck and Einstein. He departed radically from classical physics. At the same time, he researched for new theories in physics ? the correspondence principle. He published 3 papers on the theory of atomic structure in 1913 which were of much fundamental value and significance.

His first paper dealt with hydrogen bomb and the next 2 papers with structure of atoms heavier than that of hydrogen. These published papers brought him considerable fame and made him an eminent physicist.

The WWI broke out in 1914 and Niels Bohr was invited to Manchester by his teacher Rutherford. Later he developed an atomic model after postulating the structure in a theory known as Bohr Theory. With the help of this model he explained the structure of hydrogen. Thereafter, he served as a professor at the Institute of theoretical Physics, Copenhagen. In 1917, he was elected to the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and later became the head of the institute till his death in 1962.

It was during this period that he became a world renowned physicist and his institute was virtually turned into a great learning centre for theoretical physicists. Scientists from every corner flocked this institute to seek his audience and some of them were those who fled from Nazi Germany.

Niels Bohr was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1922. During his prize giving ceremony at Stockholm, he spoke at length about his Quantum Theory of Spectra and also discussed this topic with the great Albert Einstein. Both of them were great friends and admired each other for their individual talents.

In England, he started to work on a fission bomb, but then he had to leave England too, as it was not safe from Nazi attacks. Thus once again he had to leave his project midway and shift countries. Eventually he had to go to the US. There he continued working on his project and in 1944 gave the then US president Roosevelt the news that German scientists had succeeded in splitting the uranium atom. That was bad news for the world

Then he and his researchers helped America in developing the first atom bomb. He worked at Princeton University, New Jersey during 1939-40. Privately, Niels Bohr had his own misgivings about the inherent dangers of nuclear weapons. In 1944, he met the US President and Winston Churchill and voiced his concern about the use and control of nuclear weapons. He also stressed on the need for an agreement between the West and USSR.

It was in 1950 he wrote an open letter to the UN urging for the use of Atom for rational and peaceful purposes. Consequently, a conference on Atom for Peace was organized in Geneva in 1955. In 1957, Niels Bohr was given the first United States ?Atom for Peace Award?. His famous works were Atomic theory and description of nature (1934), Atomic physics and human knowledge (1958). He is regarded as one of the greatest scientist only next to Albert Einstein. His model of the atom proved as a milestone. His liquid drop model of the nucleus was also remarkable and was later developed by his son Aoge Bohr, who was also awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1975 for his own work on atomic structure, a rare case of both father and son receiving Nobel Prize. Niels Bohr died in Copenhagen on November 18, 1962.


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