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Niels BOHR

Danish Niels BOHR

born Niels Henrik David BOHR

Danish physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922

Source :  R. DRIANT ,  B. LIZERAY

Born: on October 07, 1885 in Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: on November 18, 1962 in Copenhagen, Denmark


Niels Bohr was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1885. His father, Christian Bohr, a devout Lutheran, was professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen (it is his name which is given to the Bohr shift or Bohr effect), while his mother, Ellen Adler Bohr, came from a wealthy Jewish family prominent in Danish banking and parliamentary circles. His brother was Harald Bohr, a mathematician and Olympic footballer who played on the Danish national team. Niels Bohr was a passionate footballer as well, and the two brothers played a number of matches for the Copenhagen-based Akademisk Boldklub.

In 1903 Bohr enrolled as an undergraduate at Copenhagen University, initially studying philosophy and mathematics. In 1905, prompted by a gold medal competition sponsored by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, he conducted a series of experiments to examine the properties of surface tension, using his father's laboratory in the university, familiar to him from assisting there since childhood. His essay won the prize, and it was this success that decided Bohr to abandon philosophy and adopt physics. As a student under Christian Christiansen he received his doctorate in 1911. As a post-doctoral student, Bohr first conducted experiments under J. J. Thomson at Trinity College, Cambridge. He then went on to study under Ernest Rutherford at the University of Manchester in England. On the basis of Rutherford's theories, Bohr published his model of atomic structure in 1913, introducing the theory of electrons traveling in orbits around the atom's nucleus, the chemical properties of the element being largely determined by the number of electrons in the outer orbits. Bohr also introduced the idea that an electron could drop from a higher-energy orbit to a lower one, emitting a photon (light quantum) of discrete energy. This became a basis for quantum theory.

Niels Bohr and his wife Margrethe Nørlund Bohr had six sons. Their oldest died in a tragic boating accident and another died from childhood meningitis. The others went on to lead successful lives, including Aage Bohr, who became a very successful physicist and, like his father, won a Nobel Prize in physics, in 1975.

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See Also :

- Category Physicist