Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist who excelled in the field of atomic physics, with the creation of its atomic model and in Quantum Physics.
He thus made new contributions to the first atomic silver model of Ernest Rutherford, adding that electrons were placed, in increasing numbers, in orbits around the nucleus.
His studies and work were widely recognized, earning him the Nobel Prize in Physics and later the Franklin Medal in Physics, among other accolades and accolades.
In this biography of Niels Bohr we will see the highlights of the life of this researcher.
Brief biography of Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr was born on October 7, 1885 in the Danish capital, Copenhagen. Her parents were Christian Bohr, a former professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen and follower of Lutheran Christianity, and Ellen Adler, who came from a Jewish family of bankers and politicians, with good financial standing and ties to the Danish bank. .
Years of youth and studies
Young Bohr studied physics at the University of Copenhagen, the city university where his father was a professor. and where he obtained his doctorate in 1911.
In order to continue his training and given his growing interest in nuclear physics, he moved to England to enter the prestigious Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge and thus expand studies; At the time, the lab was run by renowned chemist Joseph John Thomson, who discovered the electron, a negatively charged subatomic particle, and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1906.
But since JJ Thomson did not know how to appreciate Bohr’s work, nor did he show much interest in him, Niels he decided to go to Manchester and continue his studies at the University of that city. This time his teacher and mentor was Ernest Rutherford, also a Nobel Prize-winning physicist (albeit in this case of chemistry) and known for such discoveries as the atomic structure or model. The new teacher was able to value skills and studies, thus initiating a relationship that is both professional and friendly between the two.
On a personal level, the physical He married on August 1, 1912, his fiancée Margrethe Norlund, who has been a great collaborator in her husband’s studies and research, working as an editor and translator.
The couple had six children, though only four have reached the age of majority, and the youngest and oldest are believed to have died prematurely from illness and a boating accident, respectively.
Bohr’s atomic model proposal
It’s Bohr who, to explain Rutherford’s atomic model, he proposed to use laws other than those of traditional physics., presenting in 1913 his model of the structure of the atom, called the Bohr atomic model.
In this model, Bohr proposes the theory of quantum orbits, which he presents as the main idea that as the number of orbits increases, that is, as one moves away from the nucleus of atom, the number of electrons in each orbit also increases. .
Just as he tried to explain the stability of the work of electrons around the nucleus by the atomic model, he also pointed out another aspect that Rutherford had not taken into account: he believed that electrons could fall, go from an orbit more outer, further from the nucleus, to a closer or inner orbit.. That way, it would make sense for photons of energy to be emitted when this happens.
The founding of the Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics
Without breaking his friendship with Rutherford, in 1916 he returned to his hometown to work as a professor at the University of Copenhagen and set out to raise the necessary funds to found the Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics. , in which, as the name suggests, it focuses on the research of theoretical physics.
Given his growing popularity and international recognition for his studies, Bohr was able to secure the scholarships he needed, serving as Director of the Nordic Institute in 1921 until the day of his death.
The Institute for Theoretical Physics founded by Bohr was one of the most important of the time in the study of atomic physics., alongside those of the universities of Munich and Göttingen.
A year after taking up the post of director in 1922, he received the Nobel Prize in physics in recognition of his studies and research in atomic and radiation physics, and in 1926 he was awarded the Franklin Medal of Physics.
In the same year he won the Nobel Prize, his son Aage Niels Bohr was born, who trained and also excelled in physics.. He followed in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a doctorate in physics, teaching at the University of Copenhagen and replacing his father as director of the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics. He was also named the Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1975.
Post-Nobel Prize research
Niels Bohr’s studies continued to focus on atoms and quantum mechanics, proposing in 1923 the principle of correspondence, adding later, in 1928, the principle of complementarity in order to explain certain phenomena of quantum mechanics which of first when they seemed contradictory.
During the 1930s he traveled several times to the United States to publicize nucleus fission. and it was also during this period that, along with physicist John Archibald Wheeler, he claimed, based on the research they conducted, that both plutonium and uranium could crack.
They were also known the debates he had with the famous physicist Albert Einstein on the laws of relativity and quantum physics. Despite his differences, Einstein claimed that Bohr was one of the greatest scientific researchers of the time.
Returning to the United States, he moved to Copenhagen, where he continued his teaching and research work and was appointed President of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences.
Development of research on atomic physics in the context of war
In 1941, he reconnected with Werner Heinsenberg, who had been a student at Borh. Heisenberg was interested in researching nuclear technology, although he did not want to use it for military purposes. Werner would end up being the leader of the atomic bomb project in Germany.
Given the growing restrictions and advancement of the Nazis, and Bohr’s ties to Jews (since his mother was from a Jewish family), in September 1943 he decided to flee to Switzerland with his wife and children the month next to London and eventually settled in the United States. It would be in this country where he would collaborate in the manufacture of the first atomic bomb, research called Manhattan Project.
His life after WWII
World War II ended in 1945 Niels Bohr returned to Copenhagen, launching an awareness campaign on the correct use of nuclear discoveries., influenced by what the atomic bomb meant. So, between 1948 and 1950 he attended the Gifford Lectures, which were related to natural theology.
In 1951, he published and commissioned a manifesto signed by more than a hundred renowned scientists in order to demand the commitment of the public authorities to use atomic energy for peaceful and non-destructive purposes.
The last years of his life
In 1952 he helped found the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland, known by the acronym CERN. Three years later, in 1955 he organized what would be the first Atoms for Peace conference, held in Geneva and thus receiving the Atoms of Peace Prize in 1957 from the Ford Foundation with the aim of advancing humanity in scientific research.
Neils Borh died on November 18, 1862 in his hometown of Copenhagen from heart failure.
- Fernandez, T. and Tamaro, E. (2004) Biography of Niels Bohr. Biography and life. The online biographical encyclopedia.
- Moreno, V., Ramírez, MªE., De l’Oliva, C. and Moreno, E. (2014) Biography of Niels Bohr. Search for biographies.